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Companion Animal Dental Care

Recently, I asked my vet about having my canine companion/best buddy Pete’s teeth cleaned.

Now, understand that I am someone who flosses daily, has never had a cavity, and faithfully wore a retainer for years after my braces came off. You could say that I’m a bit of a dental hygiene geek.

I guess my geekiness extends to doggie dental hygiene, because when the vet looked in Pete’s mouth, he seemed puzzled. He told me that Pete’s teeth were so clean that a professional cleaning simply wasn’t necessary! Hooray for prevention! And hooray for honest vets!

What about your dog or cat? Could your animal companion be in a Tom’s of Maine toothpaste ad, or is Fido’s or Fluffy’s breath so stinky that you hold yours every time he or she woofs, yawns, or meows? Good dental hygiene for your animal companion isn’t just about having pearly white choppers—although that’s a nice benefit. It’s also essential to his or her overall health.

For instance, did you know that if your dog or cat’s gums were to become infected and abscessed, it would allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream? This can cause complications with the liver, the kidneys, and even the heart!

If you haven’t already done so, why not start your best buddy on an oral hygiene plan today? The following are some tips on how to begin:

• Start very, very slowly. Use toothpaste that is specifically formulated for animals (as human toothpaste can upset animals’ tummies), and allow your animal companion to lick the paste off your finger. You may have to try a few different ones to find a flavor that your cat or dog likes. (Pete hates peppermint but loves vanilla!)

• Once your animal companion accepts the paste, put a dab on your finger, and gently run it along your animal’s teeth. When Fido or Fluffy is OK with this (it may take several days—be patient!), try doing the same thing using a soft toothbrush designed for animals’ gums and teeth, and make small, gentle circles along the gum line.

• Be sure to provide lots of praise throughout, and give Fido or Fluffy a treat, playtime, or a walk afterward so that the brushing will be seen as a pleasant experience. • Try to make brushing part of your animal companion’s daily routine—perhaps right after you brush your teeth!  

Call your vet and make an appointment as soon as possible if you notice any of the following warning signs:

• Yellow or brown tartar buildup along the gum line

• Inflamed, red, swollen, bleeding, receding, or tender gums

• Persistent bad breath

• Broken teeth

Tooth resorption—a common and very painful condition in cats, in which the tooth basically dissolves

• Change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face or mouth, or depression Your animal companion is sure to thank you for your efforts with sweet-smelling doggie or kitty kisses—and that’s a reason for both of you to smile!

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  • daniel says:

    I have a cat but she won’t let me anywhere near her teeth and I don’t think she wants me to BRUSH her teeth but she allows me to Brush her hair with a brush only areas she lets me. Any help with how to get my Cat to let me would help. Any body had any experience with the KITTYS ? Thanks D.
    Ps I never thought about them having bad gums. I always thought that the Treats we give them cleaned their Teeth. Hmmm Good Post.

  • Dentist Daytona Beach says:

    Nice write-up. Dogs need proper dental care too. Unlike humans, pets have their own way of showing pain or ill health. It is your job as the pet owner to know how to identify these signs. By the way, you have a very good writing skills here. Keep the good work going! thank you for sharing. – Shane

  • Ken Kurtz says:

    There is a great company called Animal Dental Care
    They are located at animaldentalcare.info. The problem out there is that people do not want to sedate their pets when they do not need to. Plus if your pet lives to the age of fifteen that is fifteen times they need to go under. Why not get your pets teeth cleaned every six month without anethesia. There are over 700 vet’s using this service now.

  • Ken Kurtz says:

    I think everyone should also look into having there pets cleaned on a regular basis with out the use of anethesia.

  • Steve says:

    Thanks for the advice. I just had my dog’s teeth cleaned by the vet, and it was far too traumatic to ever do that again.

    Here’s a related question: are there any good vegan chew-bones that don’t cost a fortune? In the past, my dogs loved to chew on compressed bones or rawhide chews, and that kept their teeth clean. But when I switched to dog biscuits instead, for ethical reasons, that’s when dental hygiene became an issue.

  • Hellen CLARK says:

    Great blog, keep up the work. I have just started my own blog and I love checking out others to see what can be done.

  • Kristina says:

    I brush my dogs teeth. I have a small poodle and a Cockapoo. I brush about 3x a week…it’s pretty quick and easy and it has really made a difference in their gum health. Now I can’t imagine not brushing..I would worry about their dental health too much.

    I walk my dogs, get them groomed, brush their teeth, the only thing I am not successful as is brushing their coat.

  • Cyndi says:

    HiLindsay.

    Thanx for the nice post! and all that info abt doggies teeth/gums. I had totlaly forgotten that teeth are so important for dogs. im going check my dog’s(Fluffy)teeth today!! and btw u must be having nice teeth u mentioned not a single cavity uve had. wow…congrats! h aha. thats super. u remind me of my mom who used to brush teeth whenever she had meals. so ur not a ‘geek” its just tha u have a very good healthy habit. :)

    have a good day!

    cheers!

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