Three steps to good oral care
Dental care need not be time consuming or difficult. The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) recommends three steps to prevent oral disease.
First, have your dog or catís teeth examined and (if needed) cleaned by a professional. Most veterinarians will clean your petís teeth. Alternatively, try utilizing a board-certified veterinary dentist; a listing of dentists can be found on www.AVDC.org. Many pet insurance providers help cover the cost so check your policy for specific information. If possible, start regular exams when your pet is young and healthy as older animals may find the experience more stressful.
Next, feed your pet a healthy diet and clean his teeth regularly. Brushing can be done with a pet toothbrush, a childís soft bristled brush or by using gauze wrapped around your finger. Most pets need time to get used to the brushing, so be patient and exercise caution. Spend a few days introducing the toothbrush by slowly sliding it into his mouth. Always praise or reward your furry friend for his cooperation. Work your way up to gently brushing the teeth, using circular strokes along the gum line. Start at the back of the mouth and work your way forward.
If your dog or cat resists, try a pet-formulated toothpaste. While it isnít necessary (the abrasive scrubbing is what cleans the teeth), the taste will make brushing more appealing. Stay away from human toothpaste; the foam is messy and can be toxic if ingested. Daily brushing is a good goal, but if you forget a day or two, donít panic. Smith recommends brushing a minimum of three times a week for good oral hygiene.
Last but not least, take your dog or cat for annual dental checkups. Oral disease may be common, but itís also easily preventable. Monitoring your petís oral health will go a long way in keeping him comfortable, happy, and healthy. Not to mention, those kisses from Fido will be a lot more appealing if his breath is fresh and clean.