February is National Pet Dental Health month which highlights the importance of helping our pets maintain proper and effective dental hygiene. Studies have shown that pets with a healthy mouth and good oral hygiene live longer, healthier lives! With poor dental health often leading to pain and other health issues down the road. Around 80% of dogs have some form of dental disease before they turn three, with horses also suffering from dental hygiene neglect that can lead to health concerns and pain with overall poor behavior changes.
Let us take a quick dive into the best dental health practices you can work into your overall pet health and wellness!
As with most health issues, prevention is key!
One way you can take a proactive role in preventing oral disease in your pets is by using a vital tool that many pet parents neglect to purchase for their furry friends: a toothbrush! Unfortunately, only about 1% of pet parents take the time to brush and maintain their pet’s dental hygiene.
You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush, specially formulated for use on pets, to clean your pet’s teeth daily. You want to do your best to remove any food particles and prevent the build up of tartar and plaque deposits that can cause bad breath and eventually dental disease. Dental disease can have adverse effects on the heart, kidneys, and other major organs.
Overall health begins with a good diet, but did you know that a great deal of dental health issues are caused by malnutrition? Speak with your veterinarian to go over your pet’s specific nutrition and develop a healthy eating plan. (Foods with the Veterinary Oral Health Care (VOHC) seal of approval is often recommended.)
Common Dental Problems
Some pets become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Always be careful when evaluating your pet’s mouth because a painful animal may bite.
Your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy! Veterinary dentistry includes the cleaning, adjustment, filing, extraction, or repair of your pets' teeth and all other aspects of oral health care.
The process begins with an oral exam of your pet’s mouth by a veterinarian. Dental cleaning includes scaling (to remove dental plaque and tartar) and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth during your regular dental cleanings.
With daily oral health maintenance, the frequency of veterinarian needed assistance will decrease, while the overall health and wellness of your pets will continue to increase!