National Pet Dental Health Month
Updated: Feb 8
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and although it is only 1 month to raise awareness for our pets' teeth, we should attempt to address their pearly whites year-round.
If you have a small dog as I do, you may have more issues with dental problems. Usually, Yorkies, Dachshunds, and Chihuahuas tend to be some of the cutest dogs with the most problematic mouths that aren’t so cute. By the time cats and dogs are about 3 years old, you will start seeing periodontal disease signs. One of the most obvious will be my vet, and I like to call “yuck mouth.”
To get a little more detailed, our late Doxie Lexi used to have what we referred to as “lake water mouth,” and our adorable Emee has “fish-butt breath.” Ha, Ha, Ha, yes, that’s what we say to people when they go in for a kiss! Bad breath is a prevalent and noticeable sign that periodontal disease has settled in. Other signs may be drooling, yellow or brownish tartar build-up on the exterior of the teeth. More severe symptoms may be pawing at the mouth or sneezing if the tooth has abscessed and possibly perforated the cavity to the nose.
You will need to call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment with your pet for a proper and professional diagnosis.
We know the main issues of the "yuk-mouth" goes far beyond the smell, but the major health conditions that follow from the progression of the bacteria traveling like heart disease, which will ultimately be a shorter life with your pet.
So how can we prevent the above-mentioned issues? Daily (haha) not in my home, and or weekly brushings or wiping with a nice damp cloth when the brush won't go over well. If the teeth require greater help, you may need to schedule a “dental” with your veterinarian to ensure that all tartar and bacteria are removed properly.
Great toys and treats that help with "cleaning" or chipping away at tarter or that may prevent tartar build-up. A few examples or treats are Dentastix and bones that you buy from the pet store.
I’ve had many people ask me about the “non-anesthesia” teeth cleaning. Unfortunately, from what I've learned from more than one professional, the administers do not get under the gums properly. An underlying infection might go unnoticed that could cause more damage than actually benefit your pet. This includes the kits you can buy online and use at home. Please save the professionals' pet dentals and keep the regular "brushings" and "wipings" for yourself. At one point, I read that some places have banned these cleanings, but you can always get advice from your veterinarian.
A tip for finding the perfect toothbrush for your pet…if you can’t find one, get a toothbrush for a human baby and trim the bristles down. Make sure it is washed really well to ensure there aren’t any little bristle pieces left, and then you can use it as I did for our pets. I also recommend getting separate brushes for each pet. Like people, you can transfer germs, and they're inexpensive.
But, if you have a difficult time brushing your pet’s teeth, there are many dog washes, groomers, and of course, your vet, who can brush them for you if you can’t bring yourself to do it. Many local groomers and dog washes give free teeth brushing or discounts in honor of this critical month; ask yours today, and you may be surprised to hear the specials they have.
A great video on the importance of brushing your pet's teeth with some signs of tartar can be seen here by MonkeySee, and it was recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which also states that periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs even though it's completely preventable. Be sure to watch this video as it could be the first step in preventing your pet's periodontal disease!
Happy Brushing and good luck!