5 Tips to Keep Your Pets’ Pearly Whites in Top Shape

Posted on February 2nd, 2013 in ASPCA, Pet Care, Pet Information

Most pet parents know there’s no better alarm clock than a nose full of warm pet breath in the morning.

But did you know your pet’s bad breath might be a warning sign of oral problems that can actually have an impact on their overall health?

Like humans, pets can suffer from plaque buildup on their teeth, which can lead to bad breath, gingivitis, receding gums, loss of teeth and infections. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will have oral disease by the time they’re 3 years old.

It’s always a good idea to make sure a veterinarian examines your pet at least once a year. Your veterinarian can check for general health issues and take a look at your pet’s choppers. Some pet insurance plans, like ASPCA Pet Insurance, have coverage for wellness care that can include annual exams and yearly dental cleanings.

Here are some other tips to help you care for your furry friend’s pearly whites at home:

  1. Do the sniff test. Take a whiff of your pet’s breath. It probably won’t smell fresh and lovely, but it shouldn’t smell foul or offensive, either. If you cringe at the scent, you should visit your veterinarian to make sure your pet isn’t suffering from digestive issues or gum disease.
  2. Get a good look. Pets tend to hide pain and discomfort, so it’s important to check their mouths regularly. Face your pet towards you, and gently lift his or her lips. Look around for inflammation, discoloration, ulcers or loose teeth. If you see something that doesn’t look right, contact your veterinarian.
  3. Brush regularly. Brushing your pet’s teeth on an ongoing basis may sound like a daunting task, but it’s an inexpensive way to avoid potentially serious health problems in the future.
  4. Check his or her diet. The food your pet eats can impact dental health. Crunchy pet food or a combination of dry and wet food can keep your pet’s mouth cleaner than soft food, which tends to stick more. Ask your veterinarian to recommend pet food that’s good for dental hygiene.
  5. Offer chew toys. Toys made for chewing can perform double duty by satisfying your pet’s natural urge to chomp and promoting dental health. Chewing massages the gums and can remove soft tartar. But be careful not to let your pet chew on hard toys that can injure his or her mouth or fracture teeth.

5 Responses to “5 Tips to Keep Your Pets’ Pearly Whites in Top Shape”

  1. Nicole says:

    My dog’s breath was awful until I took my groomers advice and started using rosemary spray. It works wonders!

  2. C.C says:

    Wow, 70% will have issues. That’s really high and scary. This is great information and something I will be looking out for.

  3. A.Bechtel says:

    I know that my dog has bad breath, but I thought it was just part of him being a dog. I’m definitely going to get him into the vet soon after reading this, and plan on brushing his teeth tomorrow!

  4. jake says:

    Very good advice, I dont think enough people are well enough informed about dogs dental requierments so its good to seem more information available.

  5. Hi JL,

    Good tips and I don’t think that many are aware of just how important having your cat’s teeth checked and cleaned really is.

    It’s extremely important for the reasons you listed. Dental disease can go south quickly and a cat’s mouth can get messed up badly in a short amount of time.

    Poor dental hygiene can lead to infected abscesses and loss of teeth. Worse, it can easily spread to the sinuses and get into the bloodstream.

    Your solution – an annual checkup – is the best one. When I take my cats to the vet, I make sure the check the mouth closely and comment on what they see.

    My cats get their teeth cleaned on a regular basis.

    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

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