Just like in people, our pets can develop gingivitis and periodontal disease if their teeth are not properly cared for. Signs of dental disease include bad breath, redness and/or bleeding of the gums, plaque on the teeth, and mobility of one or more teeth. Animals with dental disease may have difficulty eating if their teeth become excessively painful. In pets that develop severe dental disease, extractions and extensive cleaning are often necessary. Owners and veterinarians can work together to prevent the occurrence of advanced dental disease.
Maintaining dental health begins with the owner. Ideally, your pet’s teeth should be brushed daily with a pet toothpaste and a soft bristled toothbrush. Because most dogs and cats will not initially tolerate brushing, they need to be trained to accept the practice. Begin by putting a small amount of pet toothpaste on your finger and rubbing this on the front teeth multiple times daily. When your pet has accepted this, begin to use your finger on the back teeth and on the inside of the teeth. When your pet has gotten used to brushing with a finger, switch to the toothbrush. Again start by only brushing the front teeth and gradually move to the back of the mouth and inside of the teeth. Each time you brush your pet’s teeth, reward him or her with a treat
Dental products, such as chew toys, oral sprays, and special foods, can be used in conjunction with brushing to maintain dental health. In general, dry food is more effective than canned food in preventing plaque buildup. Specialized dental diets are also available if indicated. Please visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council website for more information and for a list of dental health products accepted by the VOHC.
Following is a list of dental products available at the Canton Animal Clinic
- Hill’s® Prescription Diet® t/d® Canine Dental Health
- Hill’s® Prescription Diet® t/d® Feline Dental Health
- Clenza-a-dent Canton Animal Clinic Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews for Dogs
- Clenza-a-dent Canton Animal Clinic Water Additive
- Clenza-a-dent Canton Animal Clinic Food Additive
- C.E.T. Dual-Ended Toothbrush
- C.E.T. Toothpaste
- GREENIES® Canine Dental Chews
- GREENIES® Feline Dental Chews
Even with regular brushing, many pets will require prophylactic dental care from their veterinarian. This is especially true in middle aged and older pets; annual dental cleanings are often recommended in these animals. A prophylactic dental cleaning includes scaling and polishing. During the cleaning, the veterinarian will assess whether additional measures, such as extractions, are necessary. Dogs and cats require general anesthesia for a dental cleaning, and your veterinarian may recommend pre-anesthetic bloodwork to reduce the risk of complications from anesthesia.
Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s dental health during his or her annual wellness exam and will make recommendations based on the findings. Talk to a Canton Animal Clinic veterinarian if you have concerns with your pet’s dental health or if you would like more information regarding preventive and prophylactic dental care.