For humans, brushing our teeth and taking care of our pearly whites is simply second nature – but many of us don’t know we should be doing the same for our furry friends, too.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing says: “Dental care is just as important for our pets as it is for us, so it’s really important to maintain a good dental hygiene routine.
Why should we brush our pet’s teeth?
“Cats and dogs are prone to plaque, rotten teeth, and gum problems just like we are, so good dental hygiene is essential.
Plaque, which is a build-up of saliva, food and bacteria is one of the main culprits; it collects on teeth and eventually turns into a hard, brown substance called tartar.
Tartar damages the teeth, causes painful, inflamed gums and might mean that your four-legged friend loses some of their teeth!
Fortunately, introducing a regular brushing routine can help keep dental issues at bay and leave your pooch with a comfortable mouth.
Starting a pet-safe brushing routine
Just like brushing your own teeth, you’ll need a toothbrush and toothpaste for your pooch – but make sure they are specially made for your pet and the toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride so is safe for them to swallow.
Build up to teeth brushing in stages to make sure your pet slowly gets used to the feeling.
Start by giving them a taste of the toothpaste, then move on to gently rubbing a soft cloth
along their gums to get them used to having their teeth touched.
Once they’re ready, you can graduate to a brush that fits onto your finger, before moving on to a proper toothbrush which will be long enough to reach all of their teeth.
Tips and tricks for dogs
As well as brushing, there are a number of things you can do to keep your furry friend’s mouth healthy.
You can get special dental hygiene toys and chews which are designed to clean the teeth as they chomp away – you should also try to limit too many sugary treats!
Though it may seem totally normal, it’s best to avoid giving your pup animal bones to chew as they can break into splinters and damage their gums and throat or even cause broken teeth.
Tips and tricks for cats
If your cat really won’t tolerate you brushing their teeth, you could try dental gels.
They’re not as effective as tooth brushing as they won’t remove plaque, but are better than nothing if brushing is causing too much stress.
You won’t need a brush with gels, you will just need to put them directly on your cat’s teeth.
Try getting your kitty used to having their mouth and teeth touched in the same way as brushing.
Signs of dental disease
Brushing alone doesn’t protect against all dental problems, so it’s important to be able to spot any abnormalities.
Common signs of dental disease include bad breath, yellow/brown coloured teeth, red or bleeding gums, difficulty eating (or not wanting to eat) and even weight loss.
These symptoms can be signs of dental disease. Therefore, you should always check in with your vet who can recommend the best treatment
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