Dental Care for Pets

Pets need dental care too; we’ve all heard this before when we bring our pets to their Vet appointments, but what does that mean?

As humans we brush our teeth twice daily and go to our regular dentist appointments (for the most part anyways), but unfortunately our pet’s teeth do not get the same attention.

We’ve all heard our dentist talk about plaque, but what is it? Plaque is a sticky, film-like substance that is constantly forming on your and your pet’s teeth, both above and below your gums. The bacteria feed on sugars in foods and forms acids which can attach tooth enamel.  The bacteria in plaque also produce toxins which can irritate the gums and lead to gum (periodontal) disease.

Our pets form tartar (as know as Calculus) on their teeth the same way we do. If the plaque is allowed to remain on your pet’s teeth, the plaque hardens into tartar; this can happen after only 26 hours. Because it has mineralized onto their teeth, tartar is far more difficult to remove than plaque

How can you help? There are many ways that we as pet parents can help. Number one is brushing with a pet specific toothpaste and a pet specific toothbrush. You can brush their teeth for up to 2 minutes (or as long as they last) and as often as possible. Brushing daily would be the most beneficial as we can help remove the plaque before it hardens into tartar, but not all our schedules allow this, so at least 3-4 times weekly is recommended.

On top of brushing it is also a good idea to start your pet on a dental diet. Dental diets are formulated not to crumble (kibble normally would just crumble) and help scrape off some plaque and tartar as the chew. We would also recommend using dental chews, or sticks to further help remove plaque as they chew

With dental as our main focus this time of the year we offer free dental exams so we can let you know how your pet’s teeth are doing and what the best course of action is. North Hill Animal Hospital can also demonstrate how to brush your pet’s teeth and answer any of your dental questions

by Beverly Riley, RVT