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Prevent Dental Disease from Plaguing Your Pet with 3 Simple Steps

Caring for your pet's teeth is crucial to their health and wellbeing- but it's an aspect of pet care that many pet owners ignore. Data from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) shows that nearly two-thirds of pet owners do not comply with veterinary recommendations for dental care. What's worse is that according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the completely preventable periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition afflicting both cats and dogs. In an effort to raise awareness, the AVMA has declared that February is National Pet Dental Health Month.

The effects of improper dental care can extend far beyond the mouth. Dental disease is capable of causing diseases that afflict the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Simply changing habits and standards of dental care can greatly increase the life expectancy of your pet. Try out these tips to help keep your pet healthy and ward away dental disease

1. Feed Your Pet Right

A proper diet is essential to maintaining proper dental health. Proper nutrition is necessary to ensure that your pet's immune system can fight harmful bacteria that can infect your pet's teeth and gums. Certain nutrients, such as calcium, are also essential for the maintenance of teeth. There are a wide variety of food formulas for both dogs and cats that are nutritionally complete.

In addition to eating healthy food, there are a wide variety of treats available that can aid with maintaining dental health. Chewing can be a natural defense against disease, as it can help stimulate gums and scrape away plaque and tartar that would otherwise cause cavities and gum disease. Treats like Bonies texture their treats to more effectively clean your pet's mouth. Though Bonies exclusively offers dental treats to dogs, brands like Greenies have created dental treats for cats, as well.

Chew toys can also act as great ways to scrape away plaque and tartar. Consider buying your dog a flossy braided rope to ensure that the experience rids even the most remote crevices of your dog's mouth of plaque and tartar. Though chew toys and treats can be valuable in the battle against dental disease, they are not a comprehensive solution.

2. Brush Your Pet's Teeth

Proper diet and dental treats and toys provide brilliant supplementary dental care to pets; however, these are only part of the proper procedure for caring for your pet's teeth and gums. It is essential to brush your pet's teeth regularly. Though many pet owners might take their pet in for a dental cleaning once a month, veterinarians actually recommend brushing your pet's teeth daily.

Brushing your pet's teeth can be a hassle, but there are plenty of tools available to make it as simple as possible. A versatile toothbrush can help you reach the far corners of your pet's mouth and help ensure your pet receives a thorough and comfortable cleaning. There are also a wide variety of flavors and formulas of toothpaste that are safe to consume and that are made especially for your pet.

Do-It-Yourself Videos:

How to Brush Dogs Teeth

How to Clean Dogs Teeth w/ Wipes

How to Clean Dogs Teeth w/ Rinse

Before brushing your pet's teeth, it's important that you prepare your pet for regular brushing. If you don't already brush your pet's teeth regularly, begin by getting your pet acclimated to having their mouth touched. After the pet is comfortable with both the taste of the toothpaste and the feeling of a brush inside their mouths, your pet will gradually become comfortable with the brushing motion.

Once your pet is comfortable, it's important to ensure that you employ proper technique while brushing. Focusing on one area at a time, brush in small circular motions on the outer sides of the teeth that touch the gums. It's important to reach the tops and outer edges of teeth because these are the sides which gather significant plaque. Before moving onto the next area of your pet's mouth, wipe away the last of the plaque with a downward stroke, with the brush at a 45 degree angle from your pet's mouth.

Whilst brushing, be sure that the brush is angled in such a way that the bristles can get under the gum. This is where the majority of plaque does its damage, so it's important to ensure that this area is cleaned properly. It's also important to find a time to brush such that it fits into a daily routine so that you and your pet can form healthy habits.

3. Be Alert

Though proper dental care can prevent dental disease, it's important to stay vigilant for signs of poor dental health to ensure that the care you're providing is adequate. There are many signs of common dental diseases that can help you identify its onset and take reactive measures before the problem worsens. If your pet won't let you brush their teeth despite having followed the above steps then it might indicate that they already have inflamed gums that are particularly sensitive to pain.

However, you don't have to begin brushing to identify the disease, as there are several ways to determine if your pet is suffering from any dental affliction. Finding foul breath would be no surprise for most pet owners- but when it's particularly wretched or paired with irregular appetite and excessive drinking, urinating, or vomiting then this can indicate a serious problem.

Aside from severe halitosis, inflamed gums, excessive drooling, loose teeth, and physical damage to the gums can each indicate that your pet needs medical assistance. These symptoms can be caused by a series of disorders that afflict your pet's mouth. Some of the most common dental diseases include gingivitis, periodontal disease, salivary cysts, and mouth tumors. Though these problems can be easily prevented with maintenance, they can be quite serious if allowed to develop.

Discolored teeth and gums in dog with dental diseases.
Image courtesy of

To ensure that your pet remains healthy, ASPCA recommends checking their gums at least once a week. If the gums appear to be swollen or discolored from the usual pink or there is brown discoloration of the teeth then your pet may be at risk for dental disease. If this is the case, please seek help from a veterinarian before the condition worsens.

We hope these tips from EntirelyPets will help you keep your pet healthy and safe from dental disease! For more dental products, including gels, mouthwashes, and floss, check out our dental products page.