Dental Health Is Extremely Important for Your Dog’s Overall Health

February is National Pet Dental Month! Even though at Parkside Animal Health Center, we think that every month should be pet dental month we still want to celebrate February!  Dental health is extremely important for your dog’s overall health. Bacteria build up in the mouth can be responsible for a long list of problems that go well beyond bad breath. The trouble is, many people feel a bit helpless when it comes doing something about dental disease. Most of the time, we find that people throw their hands into the air and think that all they can do is visit the veterinarian a couple times a year and eventually schedule a dental cleaning. But there are things you can do to manage dental disease, one of the big ones is brushing your dog’s teeth!I know, I know, that sounds a little…difficult.

Dachshund dog with a toothbrush

But we’ve got some simple tips and tricks to help you make brushing easy. First, let’s cover the basics of dental disease.

Dental disease is an extremely common, but (thankfully) manageable disease. Just how common is it? In 2016, Banfield Pet Hospitals collected data from all of their veterinary clinics (over 1,000 clinics across the nation) and put it all together for a report called “The State of Pet Health”. The report, which covers thousands and thousands of animals reported that “the most common disease in dogs and cats continues to be dental disease, affecting 68 percent of cats and 76 percent of dogs.”

That means there are more animals with dental disease than without dental disease! See why we think every month should be dental disease month!?

Dental disease is progressive and will only get worse if it is not addressed. It starts with plaque, then overtime the plaque gets harder and is called calculus (not the math class, but just as hard and bad). If dental disease progresses to calculus, it is much harder to remove and can be a haven for more bacteria to grow. If unchecked, the bacteria will eventually infect your dog’s soft tissue and jaw bone. The American Veterinary Dental College has more information on the progression of dental disease (including some pictures) if you want to know more.

At this point, it should be pretty obvious that we need to do something about dental disease! That’s where brushing come in! Brushing your dog’s teeth won’t completely remove the need for future care or visits to the veterinarian but it can greatly decrease the severity of dental disease over time. This will save you money and your pet some discomfort when it comes time to schedule a dental.

The actual process of brushing is pretty straight forward. Make sure to use a toothbrush made for dogs. These generally have softer bristles and most importantly are longer than a normal toothbrush. The last thing you want is to have your furry friend confuse your finger for some peanut butter toothpaste! There are a variety of toothpaste flavors on the market so look around for one that matches up with your dog’s favorite treat. This video goes into detail on the actual brushing process:

So now you’re ready to brush! Through our veterinary clinic, Parkside Animal Health Center,  we’ve spoke with a lot of clients who brush their pets teeth daily. We even interviewed some brave clients who brush their cat’s teeth! Here are the top tips we hear from talking to our best brushers!

 

  1. Develop A Routine (And Stick To It)

Routines help us develop new habits. It’s no different for your dog! If you make brushing your dog’s teeth something that they know is going to happen at the same time and in the same way every day it will help them get used to the idea (and act) of brushing. For example, when you brush your teeth bring your dog with you and brush their teeth right after. If the morning doesn’t work, try other times of the day. The main idea is to keep the time and situation consistent so your dog knows what to expect. This will also help you make the process a habit!

  1. Make it Positive!

Once you have your routine down make sure to include some positive reinforcement! For some dogs, the taste of the toothpaste is enough of a reward. But for others you may need to add in something else after the brushing is done.The reward can be anything that they enjoy: their favorite toy, something to chew on, a walk, or a trip to the dog park. You know your dog best. What would make the process of brushing all worth it?

  1. Take It Slow!

            This will take time! Once you’ve got your schedule and reward planned out, be patient! Some dogs won’t have any problem and you can start the full brushing process right away. Other dogs will be a little more…stubborn. Don’t feel like you have to brush your dog’s entire mouth on the first try! We recommend most clients start with the incisors (front teeth) or the canines. From there you can work your way back the molars.

Shetland Sheepdog on a toothbrush

 

February is a great time to start on new dental routine for your dog! The benefits are all there: less expensive animal hospital visits, better health for you dog and maybe even some fun!

 

Are you brushing your dog’s teeth already? Is it easier or more difficult than you expected? Let us know below!

 

Bio:

Brenda Eisenhauer, DVM

Brenda Eisenhauer, DVM practices in Aurora, Colorado where she is the founder and owner of Parkside Animal Health Center.  Dr. Eisenhauer has recently reached 20 years of experience in the veterinary field between her time as both a veterinary technician and veterinarian. She has worked in both private practice and shelter settings where she has made a positive impact on the lives of thousands and thousands of animals.

 

FTC DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored guest post.

 

 

 

 

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