When you were growing up, how many times as a kid did your parents tell you to brush your teeth? From a young age, we were taught the importance of dental care and how it plays a major role in our overall health. The same goes for your pets.
Dental care for your pet is extremely important and not taking care of your pet’s teeth could not only end up costing your pet some teeth, it could end up costing you lots of money in the long run.
So why dental care so important?
There is nothing worse than sitting beside a dog with really bad breath. Along with bad breath, a few signs that your dog needs their teeth checked are excessive drooling, inflamed gums, bleeding gums, reduced appetite, discolouration of teeth, visible tartar build up and any loose teeth.
Pets can wear teeth down and in some cases, break a tooth if their dental health is not being maintained. They can also end up developing dental diseases such as gingivitis
In some severe cases, dogs and cats can wind up with an infection that can spread into their jaws and surrounding tissues, causing your pet to be in more pain. Dogs can also develop dental diseases such as gingivitis. In both cases, extractions become necessary.
What can you do to take care of your pet’s teeth?
Like humans, one of the best ways to take care of your pet’s teeth is by brushing them. As many pet parents know, this is sometimes easier said than done.
Try to make it a positive experience for them rather than something they see as punishment. Use positive reinforcement by offering praise and rewarding with treats. Start slowly by only brushing for a couple of seconds, and gradually increase the amount of time brushing their teeth.
There are a couple of different options for brushes. You can get a brush that is like a brush used for children or you can get a brush that goes on to your finger. For toothpaste, do not use human toothpaste for your pets. Instead, get a good quality pet toothpaste. These are created with ingredients that are safe your pet to swallow and will generally contain enzymes to break down plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth. There will also be flavours that will be much more appealing to your dog such as chicken or beef if they are not fans on mint, which in turn make it much easier to brush your pet’s teeth if they like the taste of what is in their mouth.
Another option can be to use dental wipes for your dog, that you can purchase at any local pet store. While they aren’t as good as brushing, they can be a great option if trying to brush your dog’s teeth is a challenge and they are great to use on the go.
One way to keep plaque and tartar from building up on your pet’s teeth (specifically dog’s) is by them chewing. By chewing, it helps naturally scrape the plaque off of your dog’s teeth.
One of the best things to give your pet to help their teeth (and keep them occupied) is giving them raw bones (never give them cooked bones as they and easily splinter and break off). You can also give your dog treats such as bully sticks as that will not only help their teeth, bully sticks are a good high protein treat that any dog will enjoy. As with anything, make sure to supervise your pet giving them any sort of chews.
There are many people who give their dogs deer antlers to chew one, but they are not recommended as they are extremely hard and dogs can break teeth if they chew too hard. That is not a vet bill that anyone wants.
Professional Vet Cleaning
All pets, just like humans, should have their teeth checked annually by their vet. Vets are able to see things like plaque and tartar buildup on their back teeth, just like when human goes to the dentist. Unfortunately, brushing will not be able to get rid of tartar build up once it’s already there.
Also like humans, all dogs should get their teeth professionally cleaned by their vet. Many people worry about their pet being put under anesthesia, but it’s not something that should be worried about. It’s standard that a bloodwork panel will be done prior to any anesthesia given and if there is a concern, the vet will call you. Vets will not put a pet under anesthesia if they feel there is any sort of risk to them.
While under anesthesia, vets are able to take any x-rays deemed necessary, do a full cleaning and extract any teeth need that need to be removed.
A big issue that many pet owners face is the cost. Cleaning and tooth extractions can cost anywhere from $600 to over $1000 depending on how extensive the work is. With that, most vets will give you a breakdown of costs prior to performing any procedures and some will give you a full estimate of costs prior to booking your pet’s dental appointment.
With cost being a big issue for many pet owners, many vet clinics are able to offer payment plans. With that being said, cheaper isn’t necessarily better but some vets do charge more than others. The good thing about living in a city as big as Edmonton is that there are many different places for pet owners to go to.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month and many vets are offering dental services at a discounted rate, so if you have been holding off on getting dental work such as a cleaning done for your pet, this would be a great month to do it.
Maintaining good dental health for your pet is vital. It’s as important as getting your pet vaccinated and spay/neutered. Healthy teeth and gums equal healthy pet.
Happy brushing, everyone!