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Caring for your Pet's Teeth

Tooth decay is very common in dogs and cats. The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that by the age of three, about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have gum disease. If your pet develops dental disease, not only are its teeth at risk, but also the resulting bacterial infection and the pain will make your pet very unwell and can lead to other severe diseases.

Your pet may develop foul mouth odors, gum disease and rotten and damaged teeth if their dental hygiene is not properly cared for.  Advanced teeth problems can be life threatening and expensive to treat.  Pets with poor oral health are a lot more likely to develop heart disease later in life than those with good oral health. It is important to properly care for your pet’s teeth to ensure a long, healthy and happy life.

Understanding Dental Disorders

Dog and cat teeth, like human teeth, will begin to form plaque if they are not brushed.  Plaque that forms on your pet’s teeth is a mixture of minerals from saliva, bacteria and food particles.  It is soft, sticky and gooey at first, but as the bacteria die, the plaque becomes calcified, hardens and turns to a brown, rough, cement like substance called tartar.  More plaque and bacteria sticks to the tartar and the tartar builds up on the teeth.  As more and more tartar forms in your pet’s mouth, it spreads down below the gum line, causing them to become red, inflamed and bleed easily. In the final stages of gum or periodontal disease as it is also known, the tissues surrounding the tooth are destroyed, the bony socket holding the tooth erodes and the tooth becomes loose. The gums become infected and teeth fall out. All of this is very painful for your pet.  Removing plaque while it is still soft by regular tooth brushing is the best way to prevent this from happening.

How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

When establishing a tooth brushing routine with your pet, you first want to be sure to choose the right time.  It is best to select a time when both you and your pet feel relaxed, a time that is convenient for you so that you do not feel rushed.  You then need to gradually get your dog or cat used to the process of tooth brushing.  Some animals will accept this routine much more freely than others.

To get your pet acquainted with the process, it is best to not use a toothbrush at first.  Instead, hold your furry friend as if you were cuddling it.  Then, using your finger, stroke the outside of its cheeks.  After your pet appears to be comfortable, place some flavored pet toothpaste, such as the Dentipet Toothpaste, on your finger and let her taste it.  The yummy flavor will leave your pet wanting more. With your finger start to rub some of the toothpaste over the teeth.

After going through this process a few times with your dog and cat, you can now introduce the toothbrush.  You should place only a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.  Then, using circular motions, brush a couple of your pet’s teeth as well as the gum line at the bottom of the teeth.  This will help your pet get used to the feeling of the toothbrush.

Over the next few days, gradually brush more of your dog or cat’s teeth until you are eventually getting to all of them.  Always be sure to move slowly and to be gentle and try to avoid upsetting your pet.  You do not want to stop the brushing if your pet begins to resist, otherwise she will learn that fighting gets her out of dental cleaning.  At the same time, do not forget to give your pet loads of praise after completing a session.

Your ultimate goal should be to brush for 30 seconds on each side of your pet’s teeth.  You should also concentrate mostly on the outside of the pet’s teeth because pets do not tend to get much tartar on the inside.  The teeth at the back of the mouth, however, are very important.

Regularly brushing your pets teeth will help keep them healthy and happy and even extend their life, so it is well worth making brushing your pet’s teeth a regular part of caring for you beloved pet.

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