Dental disease is prevalent in dogs and cats. Unfortunately, we can't expect them to clean their teeth themselves! Here are some options for slowing down the progression of dental disease and gingivitis! Don't wait for there to be tartar (brown or yellow discolouration)! By then, the disease is established and you cannot remove tartar without scaling the teeth. We want to promote oral health early as a preventative.
However, even if the best oral hygiene routine, plaque, tartar, and gingivitis will build up over time, just like in people. And, just like in people, removal of the stubborn hard tartar (including the hidden disease under the gumline) requires the work of the dentist. In our pets' case, that means their veterinarian.
Please DO NOT brush your pet's teeth if they have pain, bleeding of the gums, masses in the mouth, or broken teeth. This will cause more pain and make them dislike the procedure. If there is something going on in the mouth, please have the veterinarian check it and help guide treatment BEFORE you try to brush.
Six ways to delay the onset of dental disease:
By FAR the best option for the teeth is brushing. Ideally, you would brush your pet's teeth daily, although even a few times a week will help. Setting a schedule will help you remember to do it!
The best time to start is when they are young but have their adult teeth. The second best time is whenever you have the time and inclination to do it!
Check out this LINK to our 'HOW TO BRUSH YOUR PETS TEETH' and get those toothbrushes out!
Also, here are some links to investigate
Veterinary Partners (Why brushing is important)
Veterinary Partners (Q&A about dental prevention)
Video "How to Brush your Dogs Teeth"
Video "1 minute training" WebMD Pet
#2 Dental wipes
A second option very similar to brushing but not quite as good is dental wipes. These are small pads that have an enzyme or cleanser in them. Wiping the teeth daily reduces plaque and freshens breath, without the need for toothpaste. It's a good option for those pets who can't quite tolerate a toothbrush, but don't mind someone's finger in their mouth!
#3 Dental diets
If brushing isn't possible, then a daily regime of oral health is still needed. There are some diets designed to act as a toothbrush and remove plaque before it establishes into tartar. Diets such as Hills t/d or Royal Canin's Dental have larger kibbles that encourage chewing. While their exact mode of action differs, they work to reduce the plaque in the mouth by at least 25% and, like all good oral hygiene, feeding your pet usually is daily occurrence, so you're getting some oral health daily!
#4 Dental chews
These take many forms. Some are enzymatic rawhide chews. Some are shaped to encourage chewing or to reach the corners of the dog (or cats!) mouth. Overall, their function is similar to dental diets; they work to reduce plaque through chewing or enzymatic action. Be warned! Not all chews are made equal! Look for the VOHC logo to know it has been tested and reduces plaque by 25%. Watch out for products that quote old papers and make claims to reduce plaque without evidence!
If you pet tends to simply crush a chew and swallow it whole, these are NOT for you! They need to be chewed to be effective, and we don't want any choking. Pets should be supervised when chewing.
#5 Plaque off/Clenzadent
We were a little ahead of the game with this one; our clinic knew about Plaque Off before it had VOHC. Now that it does, it's found in pet stores and clinics. This is a kelp powder used on the food daily that changes the composition of the saliva and softens plaque to be more readily rubbed over by normal chewing actions. We know it works, but not for everyone. Many times, we find tartar is softer (and easier to remove) on pets who use it, but it is a bit variable on response.
#6 Water additives
Some people like the water additives. These are essentially a safe mouthwash for your pets that is added to water dishes so every drink in a quick rinse to cleans the mouth. Please ensure you have regular water available as some pets don't like the taste and may avoid it. They need to be changed out daily as well, making them best suited for small dogs or cats! An example is Healthy Mouth. Find more info HERE.
As always, we're happy to guide you to the option that suits your pet best! We just want to see those pearly whites looking their best!
Do you have a favourite dental prevention regime?