Elmhurst_iStock_000049435134_LargeWhile pet dental care can sound daunting, it’s an incredibly undervalued aspect of pet health. After all, our pets can’t choose to learn the tricks of good dental care or tooth brushing. They depend on us to provide daily dental care to keep them from developing dental and gum diseases. And, while brushing your dog or – even more daunting – your cat’s teeth each day doesn’t sound like a trip to the beach, it does help prevent periodontal disease and other serious health conditions.

Before you run the other way, keep in mind that both your pet and you can adjust to the dental care routine, making it far less difficult in the future. All you need to begin is a bit of instruction and some understanding of why dental care is so important to overall health.

Why Pet Dental Care Helps Keep Your Pet Healthy

It’s understandable why so many pets deal with unnecessary dental diseases and conditions. After all, until the past few decades, there was very little emphasis on pet dental care and many pet owners never considered brushing their pets’ teeth. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding has resulted in an estimated 80% of dogs and 70% of cats struggling with some form of dental disease.

But, we’re not simply talking about a painful toothache or possible tooth loss. Dental disease can lead to organ or systemic health problems that can cut months or years from your pet’s life, or trigger pet emergencies.

In addition to dental problems, poor dental hygiene can lead to these pet health risks:

  • Malnourishment or weight loss
  • Compromised immune system
  • Dangerous infections
  • Heart, kidney, and other diseases resulting from infections and compromised immunity
  • Behavior changes and aggression, spurred from pain
  • Thankfully, these more serious threats to your pet’s health are oftentimes preventable through daily pet dental care and regular veterinary care.

    How to Prevent Pet Dental Disease

    Just like us, our pets’ teeth and gums can be affected by the build-up of plaque and tartar and you’re probably familiar from your own dental visits about the risks with those. And, the best way of preventing the build-up of plaque is… that’s right, daily tooth brushing.

    Before you begin chasing your pet around with the toothbrush, you might want to refer back to our previous blog post, Home Dental Care for Your Pet. There you will find suggestions on how to manage at-home dental care.

    A few pointers on brushing your pet’s teeth:

  • Purchase a quality toothbrush and pet formulated toothpaste, designed for your cat or dog (never use human pastes!)
  • Start slowly and allow your pet to get used to the sensation and taste of the toothpaste
  • Brush in a circular motion, focusing on the outer teeth first and gum lines – increasing the brushing time and scope as your pet becomes more comfortable with the daily routine
  • Reward your pet with plenty of verbal praise and maybe even a dental care treat when you are finished
  • Along with daily tooth brushing, your pet’s wellness appointments are incredibly important in preventing diseases, including dental disease. During your pet’s physical examination, we will inspect your pet’s teeth, mouth, and gums and make recommendations regarding specialty diets or teeth cleaning.

    During your pet’s exam, we are also more than happy to help answer your questions about at-home pet dental care.

    Don’t let the fear of brushing your pet’s teeth take a bite out of your responsible pet owner status. With practice, it will soon become a simple part of your pet’s daily care routine. And, just think of the incredible health benefits!