One of the most important aspects of home health care for your pet is ensuring that your pet’s teeth are kept in pearly white condition. Good dental health doesn’t just mean sweet breath, it is good for your pet’s overall health. By implementing a home dental care regime you can also save yourself thousands of dollars in vet fees over the years. Good oral health for pets usually involves combining different methods daily for the best result.
Bad teeth don’t just cause bad breath. Inflamed gums and loosened teeth can be painful. Bacteria in the mouth that lead to dental problems are also linked with causing some forms of heart and kidney disease and abcesses in internal organs.
Once your pet has significant tartar they will need a full general anaesthetic to properly clean their teeth. Dental cleans at your vet commonly range from $400 – $1000. If your pet needs their teeth cleaned yearly the costs add up quickly so it makes sense to implement a daily oral hygiene program.
The gold standard in pet dental care is tooth brushing. It’s cheap and very effective if done properly, though not always easy. There are a variety of finger toothbrushes, pet toothbrushes and flavoured toothpastes available that make the job easier. You may need to start with just massaging around your pet’s face and gums before trying any brushing if your pet isn’t keen. Ideally start when your pet is young and make it fun. Use treats and praise to make teeth cleaning enjoyable. For dogs with misaligned teeth or genetically poor dental health (miniature poodles, whippets, and many terriers are on the list here), tooth brushing may be the only effective prevention.
Raw meaty bones can be an easy and enjoyable way to control plaque build up. Bones should always be fed raw and be an appropriate size for your pet. You may need to supervise your pet to ensure that the bone doesn’t get stuck. The best bones have gristle, tendon and cartilage attached. Cats and small dogs may enjoy chicken wings and necks. Chicken carcasses and softer lamb and veal brisket bones may be appropriate for larger dogs. Very hard bones (such as the shaft of marrow bones) can cause fracturing of teeth so be careful with these. Some pets can get tummy upsets and constipation from bones so if you haven’t been feeding them start slowly and see how your pet copes.
There are a number of different dental foods aimed towards maintaining good oral hygiene. Some of these foods can be useful to minimise plaque build up but should not be relied on as the only method to keep teeth clean. You can also find various dental treats and toys which pets enjoy. Again, they need to be used in combination with other measures.
If your pet already has a sore mouth from bad teeth or gums they will need their teeth cleaned by a vet. Following cleaning their mouth should be comfortable and you will be able to continue on with home maintenance care. Vets may also have additional gels, salts and rinses that will help to control tartar.