Give Your Pet a Reason to Smile: Dental Care Tips
As many pet owners know, dental disease is a common problem encountered as our pets get older. Comprehensive dental cleanings at a private practice can be very expensive and not without risk. Small breed dogs are more prone to dental disease at an earlier age. However, there are many things a pet owner can do to prolong the health of those pearly whites.
A short introduction on canine and feline dentition:
Dogs and cats, like humans, are usually born without any teeth. By around 3 weeks of age, the first deciduous (baby) teeth begin to appear. By the time they are 8-9 months all the adult teeth have come in and it is these teeth that are important to maintain.
A typical cat has 30 adult teeth whereas a dog has 40-42 teeth.
Contrary to popular belief and marketing, there is no special food that can replace regular home dental care. Imagine if we only ate hard foods without brushing our teeth! Here are some effective home dental tips you can do at home:
- Brushing – there are a multitude of pet toothbrush types and toothpaste flavors available, experiment to find what your pet tolerates the most and remember to only use pet toothpaste - human toothpaste contains xylitol which is harmful if swallowed by your pet.
- Dental chews – Be sure to look for brands that help with plaque and calculus (tartar), such as brands approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Committee (VOHC).
When it is time for your pet to get a professional cleaning, make sure you know what is involved, as a truly effective cleaning must be done under general anesthesia. However, even the worst mouths can have amazing results, just like some of these stray animals that came through our shelter.