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Pet Dental Care: Tips for Keeping Your Pet's Teeth Healthy

Keeping our pets’ teeth healthy is key to our furry friends’ health and well-being. Making sure that pets get used to good oral hygiene from an early age - ideally, as soon as they get their adult teeth - can help prevent the build-up of plaque, dental disease, and other serious health issues associated with gum disease, such as heart disease. Keeping on top of good pet oral hygiene will not only benefit your pet’s comfort and longevity, but it can also help avoid expensive treatment costs and expenditures down the road. 

Your pet’s teeth have a lot of work to do beyond just eating - they use them to play, explore, and taste a lot of their surroundings too! Coyote Ridge Veterinary Clinic is a Fort Collins vet dedicated to the well-being of your pets. No matter their age or breed, we look forward to making your cat or dog happy and healthy while preparing them for what’s next. In this article, let’s dive into all things pet dental care along with some useful tips for keeping your pet’s teeth healthy!

The Importance of Pet Oral Health 

Just like humans, your pet’s oral health not only affects their day-to-day happiness, but it can have significant impacts on their long-term bodily health more broadly. Unfortunately, dental disease is one of the most commonly diagnosed health problems in both cats and dogs. According to a leading scientific study on pet dental health, about 70-80% of cats and dogs suffer from periodontal infections at some point in their lifetime. Health issues such as gingivitis, plaque and tartar (calculus) build-up, and periodontitis (a severe gum disease) are common in our pets, but they sadly lead to painful issues in your pet’s oral cavity and can lead to damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. 

It’s important, therefore, to do all we can to promote positive oral health practices with our pets. It will ensure their long-term comfort and happiness, and it will give them the best chance for a long and active life. 

Signs Your Pet is Developing Gum Disease

If you’ve yet to pay attention to your pet’s dental health, don’t worry! It’s never too late to start. However, there is a chance that your pet has begun to develop gum disease or may even develop it in the future. Here are some signs to look out for that could indicate that your pet is developing gum disease: 

  • Bad breath

  • Chewing on one side of the mouth

  • Trouble eating (especially if dropping food when eating)

  • Not playing with their favorite toys as often

  • Avoiding touches on their snout or head

  • Sneezing or nasal discharge

  • Bloody saliva

  • Weight loss

  • Lumps under the eyes or in the mouth

  • Receding gums

  • Generally distant and less enthusiastic than usual 

Why Prevention is Better Than Curing

Dental diseases in pets develop gradually and they can be reversed if caught and treated early on. Preventing these diseases in the first place is certainly better than attempting to treat them. On one hand, gum disease can immediately start affecting your pet’s well-being and it is not always possible to halt or reverse its effects. On the other hand, the steps taken to prevent dental disease are far more cost-effective in the long run. By sticking on top of dental disease prevention, your pet will have a better chance of staying healthy and not having to endure the difficulties caused by dental issues. 

Tips for Keeping Your Pet’s Teeth Healthy

At Coyote Ridge Veterinary Clinic, here are the top tips we share with new pet owners to ensure their pets have clean and healthy teeth:

Regular Vet Checkups

The absolute best way to maintain oral health for your pets is to take them to the vet for an oral health exam every 6 months. The veterinarian will examine the teeth for tartar and the gums for inflammation (gingivitis) and will recommend specific treatments if needed.

Brush Their Teeth 

Establishing an oral hygiene routine from an early age can help pets tolerate and maybe even enjoy daily toothbrushing. We recommend brushing your pet’s teeth daily using pet-friendly toothbrushes and toothpaste. Do not use human toothbrushes or toothpaste as they can be harmful to your pet. 

Give Them Dental Chews

Dental chews are a great way to encourage dental health in your pets with little to no effort on your behalf. Dogs, especially, love to chew, so introducing dental chews that help prevent gum disease and reduce tartar is a great step for improving their dental health. 

Select Appropriate Food

Dry food can help maintain your pet’s oral health, and there are some specific food companies that make prescription dental food that has been clinically proven to help reduce dental disease. As your pet chews the food, the kibble cleans the surface of their teeth, and by doing so, reduces tartar buildup. The kibble also contains ingredients that help to kill bacteria that lead to plaque and tartar formation. Discuss positive food choices with your vet for more information. 

Use Food and Water Additives

There are several different types of food and water additives available that contain a probiotic that helps promote healthy bacteria in your dog’s mouth and simultaneously kills plaque-building bacteria. These additives come in a powder form and can be applied to every meal your pet eats, reducing tartar and plaque buildup. Once again, be sure to discuss this option with your vet. 

Work With a Reputable Fort Collins Vet 

Your pets have a long and exciting life ahead of them, and maintaining the health of their teeth is key to ensuring their comfort, happiness, and longevity. Don’t forget that every pet is different, so don’t ever hesitate to discuss your pet's situation with a vet if you need help. Coyote Ridge Veterinary Clinic is a Fort Collins vet that has helped innumerable pets of all types, and we look forward to welcoming you to our pack too!

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