It is estimated that 80% of people brush their teeth everyday. Our pets, however, do not. A survey found that 1 out of 10 pet owners make sure that their pets’ teeth are cared for. Although dogs and cats rarely get cavities they can get tartar, plaque, and other problems. Proper dental care can begin with a trip to the vet, who will let you know if your pet needs a cleaning or other periodontal care.
Neglecting your pets’ teeth does not just mean they have dirty teeth or bacteria building up, it can also lead to other problems if left untreated for long periods of time. There is a chance that your pet could develop an infection which could spread and compromise their health overall. It can also become extremely painful for your pet to eat food.
The American Veterinary Medical Association urges all pet owners to bring their pet to the vet for yearly checkups and to brush your pets’ teeth regularly. If you have a young pet, it may be easier to make brushing a routine part of day to day care and get them used to it. Older animals may struggle with you at first or even run away.
My cats tolerate having their teeth brushed but as they’ve gotten older they have taken to hiding when they see the toothpaste on the counter. If your pets are like mine and find this some mild form of torture, there are other things you can do to cut down on tartar and plaque buildup. There are treats that contain ingredients and are shaped in ways that help breakdown and prevent plaque buildup. Special treats like dental chews, dental bones, and other products are made specifically for promoting good dental health.
Chances are your vet is offering a deal for February for dental exams and cleaning. Check with them and talk to your vet about your options for maintaining a dental plan and what types of brushes and toothpaste are safe for your pets. Preventative care is always better and cheaper and your pet will be happier in the end.
Photo courtesy of AVMA