tips for preventing a dental disaster at home

Posted by Dr. Nina Mantione on Feb 17 2011

Poor dental health can be a real kick in the teeth, especially for our four-legged friends. But the good news is that most dental problems are preventable. In my previous blog, I talked about the dangers of dental disease, as well as the ways to identify whether or not your pet may have an unhealthy mouth. In this blog I am going to focus on the ways you can promote dental health in your pets, which will help your pet avoid doggie breath and dental disasters (and keep you from having to pay costly veterinary bills).

The best thing that we as pet owners can do to prevent dental disease in our pets is brush their teeth. I know that this is not the easiest task, especially in cats (my own cats look at me coming with the brush with a clear expression of “dream on – that is not happening today!”), but a thorough brushing every day will help to diminish the plaque and tartar that lead to more serious dental issues such as periodontal disease. This also allows you to look at your pet’s teeth on a regular basis, so that problems such as a fractured tooth or an abnormal growth can be noticed early.

If tooth brushing isn’t possible due to an uncooperative pet or an overloaded schedule there are other things that you can do to promote a healthy mouth.

Chewing is a natural behavior that helps to minimize tartar formation. You can take advantage of this instinct (and protect your expensive shoes) by providing chew toys for your pets. There are a myriad of toys on the market that are made specifically to help promote dental health. I can always spot a “good chewer” in my exam room because their teeth and gums are typically in excellent condition.

If your pet isn’t a vigorous chewer then you can try one of the many dental treats on the market. These are typically yummy tasting and can help prevent tartar formation because of their ingredients, their shape, or both. Talk to your veterinarian to help pick a treat that will work best for your pet.

Finally, diet can play a role in dental health. There are diets that are specifically formulated to avoid buildup of tartar and lower the risk of periodontal disease. You can feed these diets alone or combine them with another food to help improve your pet’s oral health. At least some dry food is probably better for preventing dental disease than an all wet food diet.

By promoting good oral health, you can prevent a dental disaster from sidelining your pet – and your family budget.

With a little planning and (hopefully) some daily brushing you can help your pets avoid the problem of dental disease and keep those choppers healthy!