February is celebrated as National Pet Dental Health Month to give an accent to the importance of dental health for our pets. It is sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as a subtle reminder to keep an eye on Fido’s and Fluffy’s teeth.
While this reminder holiday is celebrated annually, it is recommended that teeth and gums be monitored closely and regularly and not just during Pet Dental Health Month.
Pets are part of the family, and like any other family member, we strive to keep them as healthy as possible. However, even the most conscious owners can easily overlook important things regarding their pet’s dental care. That’s why we created this poster with 5 Tips to Improve Your Dog’s Dental Care.
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), after they reach the age of three, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will manifest some form of dental disease. This can be easily prevented with regular checkups and visits to the veterinary clinic. Home monitoring is of great importance too.
Checking the mouth of your pet at least once a week can be crucial for preventing dental disease. Normal healthy dog teeth (and cat teeth), should always be at the forefront of pet care.
The Importance of Pet Dental Health Month
Pet Dental Health Month is an important annual event that helps pet owners learn about the importance of pet oral hygiene. During Pet Dental Health Month, pet owners are encouraged to take extra steps to ensure their pet’s teeth and gums stay healthy. This includes brushing their pet’s teeth daily, scheduling regular visits with a veterinarian for professional cleanings, and providing pet-safe dental chews and treats.
Good oral hygiene is essential for pet health, as pet dental problems can lead to serious health issues. Pet owners should be aware of common pet dental problems such as gum disease, bad breath, and tartar buildup that can cause pain and discomfort for their pet if left untreated. By scheduling regular pet dental cleanings and practicing good pet oral hygiene, pet owners can help keep their pet’s teeth and gums healthy.
Pet Dental Health Can Lead to Secondary Diseases
Poor dental health can lead to secondary diseases. Studies have shown that dental diseases can lead to heart, lungs and liver problems.
Many veterinarians believe that the source of feline dental problems is their modern diet. Their vicious teeth are specially designed to eat the prey whole, devouring bones, hair, and feathers that help keep their teeth clean. With eating kibble every day, tartar and plaque buildup is unavoidable.
Some of the most common dental diseases in pets are gingivitis, feline stomatitis, broken teeth, retained baby teeth (also in dogs), malocclusion in cats and dogs (incorrect bite), and FORL (Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions).
How Often Should You Brush Your Pet’s Teeth?
A pet’s teeth should be brushed at least once a week! At first, your dog or cat will not comply with this process because it is strange to them. But with positive reinforcement and calming treats for cats or calming treats for dogs afterward, they will learn that there is nothing scary about brushing their teeth 🙂
By not brushing your pet’s teeth, you allow a build-up of bacteria, food leftovers, and saliva to collect between the teeth and the gums and to progress into a tartar buildup. With time, this can advance into a pet periodontal disease which erodes the gums and will result in bad breath in cats, bleeding gums, infection, inflammation, and pain.
Animals have the same nerve supply in their mouths as us humans, but the difference is that they hide the pain much better. So, don’t be surprised if your fur baby is suffering from a periodontal disease but still eating. Eating is not always a sign that everything is ok.
It’s also important to ensure that pet owners use the right type of toothpaste for their pets. Check out our article on the best toothpaste for dogs as a starting point!
The Most Common Symptoms of Dental Disease in Pets
- Red and swollen gums
- Brown or grey teeth
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Pawing the face or rubbing the mouth against objects
- Reluctance towards hard food or hard toys
Proper dental hygiene and regular veterinary check-ups can maximize the quality and quantity of your pet’s life. Always, when necessary, take your pet for professional dental cleanings. These cleanings include scaling and polishing the teeth and are done at your veterinarian under general anesthesia.
Always make sure to feed high-quality food and natural pet treats. Also make sure to incorporate healthy human foods, like fruits and vegetables. Just be sure that the ones you have in mind are safe for dogs or cats.
You can also use non-edible bones or natural cat chews to add to your at-home dental care. Dogs have a natural urge to chew, so these snacks can help with the natural scaling of tartar on the teeth. Just be careful of worn-out toys because they can be hazardous.
How to Brush a Dog’s Teeth
To ensure your dog’s dental health, a regular brushing routine is essential. Start by getting the right tools for the job. Depending on the size of your dog, you may need to use different tools such as a finger brush for smaller dogs or a longer-handled toothbrush with softer bristles for larger dogs. It’s important to use toothpaste specifically designed for dogs, as they have a different pH than humans and can’t handle the same type of toothpaste.
Once your dog is comfortable with you brushing their teeth, begin by gently lifting up the lip to expose the teeth and check for pale pet gums at the same time. Work in small sections at first, starting from the back molars and gradually moving forward. Keep the brush at a 45-degree angle to reach all the surfaces of your dog’s teeth. Brush in circular motions for about 30 seconds in each area then move on to another section. Be sure to not put too much pressure on their gums or teeth as this can be uncomfortable for them.
When you’ve finished brushing the visible teeth, you should also brush the back of your dog’s tongue. Make sure to use a shorter bristled toothbrush for this so that it is comfortable and not abrasive. After brushing you can use an oral rinse designed specifically for dogs which will help reduce plaque and bacteria levels in their mouths as well as freshen their breath.
It’s important to remember that regular brushing is key to keeping your dog’s teeth and gums healthy, but it may take some time for your pup to get used to the process. If you find they are resistant or uncomfortable with brushing be sure not to force them and instead reward them with calming dog treats or alternatively, provide affection for cooperating.
Over time, your dog should become used to the routine and will thank you for taking care of their dental health on Pet Dental Health Month and every day of the year!
How to Brush a Feline’s Teeth
Cats, like humans, can suffer from tooth decay and gum disease if their teeth are not properly cared for. Even though Pet Dental Health Month is an important observance, owners should strive to always care for their cat’s teeth!
Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly is an important part of their overall dental hygiene and health. Here are some tips to help make brushing your cat’s teeth more successful:
1. Make sure you use a cat-formulated toothpaste. Toothpaste for humans can contain ingredients that are toxic to cats if swallowed.
2. Try brushing your cat’s teeth once a day, preferably after the last meal of the day for consistency.
3. Start slowly and reward your feline with the best freeze-dried cat treats or praise when they cooperate during brushing sessions.
4. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush specifically designed for cats, or use a finger brush with extra-soft bristles.
5. Gently lift your cat’s lips and brush the outside of each tooth in small circular motions starting at the gum line, then move to the inside surface of the teeth and gums.
6. Don’t forget to brush your cat’s tongue and the roof of their mouth.
7. Be sure to reward your feline with the best cat treats for sensitive stomachs, or praise after each brushing session as a reward for good behavior; this will help them associate tooth brushing with something positive.
With patience and consistency, you can make cleaning your cat’s teeth a part of their regular grooming routine. Regular brushing is an important part of your cat’s dental care and will help keep them healthy for years to come.
If you have any questions or concerns about brushing your pet’s teeth or how else you can observe Pet Dental Health Month, be sure to talk to your veterinarian for additional tips and advice.
Important organizations for Pet Dental Health
Veterinary Oral Health Council – The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) grants permission for the use of their officially recognized seal on products that are designed to prevent plaque and tartar buildup on animals’ teeth.
The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) – sets standards for certifying veterinary dentists and conducts evaluations to identify those who meet the qualifications for Board Certified Veterinary Dentist™ and Board Certified Equine Veterinary Dentist™.
The Academy of Veterinary Dentistry was established to honor individuals who specialize in Veterinary Dentistry through practice, teaching, or research. It is committed to raising standards and advancing knowledge in the field.
The Veterinary Dental Forum (VDF®) was created in 1987 to promote education, knowledge, and skills in veterinary dentistry among veterinarians, technicians, students, staff and interested parties. The VDF® is a collaboration of the Foundation for Veterinary Dentistry, the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry, and the American Veterinary Dental College. It is the largest and longest-running veterinary dental conference, offering top-quality lectures and labs from leading experts in the field.
With Pet Dental Health Month you can ensure a happier and healthier pet and owner!
Celebrate this month by buying a specially designed toothbrush for your pet and a pet-friendly toothpaste. Brush their teeth and say goodbye to tartar and plaque!
Don’t forget to check out any additional resources for Pet Dental Month on the American Veterinary Medical Association‘s website.