We all want our furry friends to lead happy, healthy lives, but one aspect of a healthy life that many pet parents overlook is dental hygiene. Just like humans, dogs and cats need to have their teeth cleaned regularly to avoid dangerous and painful tooth infections and diseases like periodontal disease (gum disease). Read on to learn more about dental care for pets as we dispel some of the primary myths you might believe about your pet’s dental health.
This is not true. If your pet’s breath is truly horrendous, that’s probably a sign that there is some kind of infection or disease going on inside their mouth that needs to be treated as soon as possible. If you follow the recommendations of your vet by brushing your pet’s teeth every day and bringing them in for a more in-depth preventative cleaning at least once a year, your pet’s breath should not have a noticeably offensive odor.
While it is true that dry food can help keep an animal’s teeth clean, you should not rely on that as the only form of dental care your pet receives. The idea behind this myth is based on fact: as your pet chews on dry food, some plaque will rub off their teeth. However, dry food can also get stuck in between a dog’s teeth and cause bacteria to form. Also if the pieces of food are small enough, it’s likely that your pet won’t chew at all and instead will swallow the pieces whole, negating any possible advantages of dry food removing plaque buildup entirely.
Some pets just don’t like to have their teeth cleaned with a brush and toothpaste, and because of that, it can be very frustrating and time-consuming to try to give them a proper brushing. Many pet parents think that they can just give the pet a dental chew and that will be good enough. This myth is similar to the dry food myth mentioned above, but you can’t rely on dental chews entirely.
Some dental chews, particularly those products that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, can do a lot to help your pet’s oral hygiene, and they’re certainly better than nothing on days when your pet refuses to have their teeth cleaned with a brush and toothpaste. However, proper brushing is the best way to promote oral health by a wide margin.
Because of this, if possible, vets recommend that you train your dog or cat to accept regular brushing. Of course, it’s easier to do if you start when they’re still young, but with patience and practice, most older animals will eventually come around as well.
There are several reasons why using toothbrushes and toothpaste made for humans on your animals is a bad idea. First, a lot of toothpaste made for humans contains xylitol, a substance that can be dangerous if your pet consumes it. Humans know that you’re not supposed to swallow toothpaste, but a pet cannot simply spit toothpaste out into the sink.
The minty taste of most human toothpaste can be very off-putting for dogs and cats, which may make them hate brushing and resist it even more. The idea is to make tooth-brushing an enjoyable and rewarding experience for them, so using a flavored dog or cat toothpaste that tastes like chicken, fish, or some other food they like might make them more willing to accept the brushing.
Dogs, cats, and humans have very different kinds of teeth. A toothbrush designed for a human might be too rough for an animal’s teeth, causing damage and even pain to their teeth, cheeks, and gums. Toothbrushes designed for animals usually have softer bristles and are smaller.
Now that you know about the importance of oral hygiene for pets, Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital and Emergency is here for you. To learn more or schedule an appointment, feel free to contact us today. We help pet owners care for their pets in Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, Chatsworth, or any areas nearby Ventura County. Give us a call today!