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February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Pets are a very important part of our lives for many years. Because this is true, dental care is extremely important to help extend your pet’s good health and quality years with you. Dental disease is the most common problem seen in our pet population today. More than 85% of ALL cats and dogs presented to veterinarians are affected by dental problems. Periodontal disease is what causes bad breath as well as eventual tooth loss.

Just as your dentist does for you and your family, we recommend daily dental care at home for your pets. It is best to begin home care at an early age (8-12 weeks), which would be during early puppy or kitten-hood, but it is NEVER too late to begin a dental regime for your adult or senior pets. Visible tartar should be removed ultrasonically in a process known as scaling and polishing, it’s just like going to the dentist for humans. This makes your home care efforts easier and more effective. Always remember to make it FUN!

Supplies you will need:

Washcloth or toothbrush

Pet toothpaste (see products available in our hospital)

Week 1- Slowly Acquainting Your Pet With Mouth Care

Using your hand, gently open your pet’s mouth and run your finger around his or her lips, lifting the lips, etc. This should begin for just 30 seconds on day one and progressing to a couple of minutes by the end of the week (or when your pet has become comfortable with the actions). Reward your pet with a small treat at the end of each session (“people food” is not a recommended treat option).

Week 2- Introducing A Toothbrush or Washcloth (without toothpaste)

This week, use either a wet washcloth wrapped around your index finger or a wet toothbrush on your pet’s teeth. Lift lips. Massage the outer surfaces only of upper and lower teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do this for 30 seconds on day one, progressing up to three minutes by the end of the week (or when your pet has become comfortable with the actions).

Week 3- Add Toothpaste, Extend Brushing Time

This week use your dental cleaning instrument (your washcloth or toothbrush) but this time add ¾ inch of pet toothpaste to brush the outer surfaces only of upper and lower teeth in a back-and-forth motion.

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