Dental Care For Your Furry Friends

Most veterinarians will tell you that dental disease is among the leading pet health problems. However, since dogs and cats don’t naturally put up with tooth brushing gracefully, it’s understandable that few pet parents actually do it. Dog and cat dental care is about more than making sure they have pretty smiles for the family photo, though, and there are additional ways to encourage good oral health for your pets.

More Than a Mouth Issue

Without good dental care, your furry friends could develop more than “doggy” or “kitty” breath. According to veterinarian Eric Barchas1, the problems of periodontal disease start in the mouth but spread throughout the body to compromise cat health and dog health. You may see cat teeth falling out, notice a deterioration in grooming habits, and your dog or cat may experience chronic infections. Infections in the mouth can cause sepsis in the bloodstream, affecting the heart, lungs, and kidneys, and weakening immunity. Without a healthy immune system, your pet could develop diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer.

Brushing Up on Oral Health

The top thing you can do for your pets’ dental care is to brush their teeth regularly with a soft bristle toothbrush. Obviously, “regularly” would be daily, but that schedule may be unrealistic. Most vets would agree, however, that once a week is better than never, so if you manage to brush Fluffy and Fido’s teeth even two to three times a week, at least you’re doing something positive for their dental care.

One step you can take is to use a tartar control product to enhance your pets’ dental health in between brushings. Liquid tartar inhibitors and removers such as Nylabone’s Advanced Oral Care™ don’t replace brushing, but they do decrease tartar production and control bad breath. They’re super-simple to use, too. Follow the instructions on the packaging to combine the recommended amount of tartar remover with water in your pets’ water dish. As they drink, the product alters the pH in their saliva for fresher breath and cleaner teeth.

Chew Toys All Around!

Chew toys are an effective way to help keep your dog’s teeth clean, and pet supply stores have endless rows of rubber and rawhide toys in enough varieties to encourage dogs to chew their way to good dental health.

Though it’s not as extensive, the cat chew toy market still holds its own. More and more companies are developing dental chew toys for cats that satisfy their desire to chew–good news for your lamp cords and computer cables! Similar to dog chew toys, some kitty chew toys have rope, twine, and cloth that act like dental floss, some are ultra-hard to exercise jaw muscles and scrape away plaque and tartar, and others are made with catnip and mint to freshen kitty breath naturally.

“Treating” Teeth

When you include cat and dog dental treats in your plan for pet dental care, just be sure to reduce their main food a bit to compensate for the number of treats they’ll get in a day. Trading a cat with tartar-covered teeth for a tubby tabby just exchanges one problem for another. Read treat labels, too, opting for dental treats that are formulated to inhibit tartar and plaque. The crunchier, the better. Animal Planet2 says that, unlike wet and semi-moist treats that can stick to and in between teeth, dry, crunchy treats and foods scrape away plaque.
1http://drbarchas.com/dental_disease
2http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/healthy-pets/do-dog-dental-treats-really-work/