Periodontal Disease - Why Brush?
Periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss and affects most dogs and cats by the time they are 3 years old.
Depending on your pet’s overall health, bacteria from periodontal disease can spread to affect other organs. One of the best ways to help prevent periodontal disease is to brush your pet’s teeth daily, or at least multiple times a week.
Dogs and Cats are never too young to start having their teeth brushed at home; in fact, the younger they are, the better.
Have your pet’s teeth checked by your veterinarian before you start brushing them. Your veterinarian may recommend a dental cleaning to remove any existing plaque and tartar, which contribute to periodontal disease. If your dog has severe dental disease, extraction of the affected teeth may be recommended. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on how long to wait after dental cleaning or extraction before brushing your dog’s teeth.
What You Need:
• Baby toothbrush or pet toothbrush that is an appropriate size for your dog or cat; if your pet won’t tolerate a toothbrush, a small piece of washcloth or lint gauze can be used
• Pet toothpaste
• Treat or other reward your pet really likes
Note: Do not use toothpaste for people or baking soda to brush your pet’s teeth. Human toothpaste is made with ingredients that can cause stomach upset if swallowed (e.g., detergents, fluoride). Animal toothpaste comes in different flavours (e.g., poultry, beef, vanilla mint). You may need to try a couple of flavours to find the one your furry friend likes the best. The more your dog or cat likes the toothpaste, the easier it will be to train him or her to accept brushing.
• Toothbrushing should be a bonding experience that is constantly reinforced with praise and rewards. Be very patient - teaching your pet to accept toothbrushing may take weeks. Make toothbrushing enjoyable for your pet by rewarding him or her immediately after each session.
• You only need to brush the outside of your pet’s teeth—the side facing the cheek. Only do as much at a time as your pet allows. You may not be able to do the whole mouth at first.
• If you are ever worried about being bitten, stop. Ask your veterinarian about how best to care for your pet’s teeth.
• Start by letting your pet get used to the toothbrush and toothpaste. Put them out and let your pet sniff them. You can let your dog or cat taste the toothpaste to see if he or she likes it.
• Get your pet used to you touching his or her mouth. Lift his or her lips, and slowly and gently rub the teeth and gums with your finger. You might want to dip your finger in something your pet finds tasty, like juice from a can of tuna.
• Brush your pet’s teeth along the gum line. Work quickly—you don’t need to scrub. Work up to at least 30 seconds of brushing for each side of the mouth every other day.
• If you notice any problems as you brush, like red or bleeding gums or bad breath, call your veterinarian. The earlier problems are found, the easier they may be to treat.
Other Ways to Control Plaque:
Although there’s no substitute for regular toothbrushing, some dogs just won’t allow it. If you can’t brush your pet’s teeth, ask your veterinarian about plaque-preventive products such as CET Toothpaste. Feeding dry food may also help keep your pets teeth and gums in good condition.
Signs of Dental Problems
- Bad breath
- Sensitivity around the mouth
- Loss of appetite and/or weight
- Yellow or brown deposits on the teeth
- Bleeding, inflamed, and withdrawn gums
- Loose or missing teeth
- Pawing at the mouth or face
- Difficulty chewing
- Hissing and running away from the food bowl