Home dental care is important for the health of companion animals. Statistics show that 70% of cats and 80% of dogs will develop dental disease by the time they are three years old. There are ways this can be prevented including home dental care along with annual exams through the veterinarian.
The most reliable way to remove plaque from the teeth is by brushing them. Similar to our own dental health, pets need to have their teeth brushed on a daily basis in order for brushing to be effective. It is important to use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed specifically for pets. The foaming agents and fluoride in human toothpaste can make a pet sick if they swallow it. When brushing the teeth, make contact with the surface of every tooth facing the pet’s cheek. An up and down, circular motion on each tooth will remove the plaque that causes gingivitis. Daily brushing is optimal for healthy teeth, once a week or less is not going to provide quality dental care.
If brushing the teeth is not an option, whether it’s due to time constraints or the pet’s unwillingness to participate; dental chews or treats are the next best thing. Many veterinary companies such as Virbac, provide chews that contain an enzyme specifically designed to help remove plaque from the teeth before it turns into calculus. When choosing dental chews and treats, pet owners should look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s seal of approval.
For pets that aren’t big fans of treats, oral rinse products are available. These provide a daily dose of plaque prevention through enzymatic activity while combating the bacteria that cause plaque. Rinses are used after each meal and come with an oral applicator for easy use.
This product is added directly to the water dish. Every time pets take a drink, the enzymatic action of the additive helps prevent future buildup of plaque and calculus. It is important for owners to follow the directions on the bottle because some of the ingredients can cause gastrointestinal upset of consumed in large quantities.
Pet owners should seek their veterinarian’s advice on product selection and choose brands that are backed by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. This organization is dedicated to setting the standards on products that claim to help prevent oral disease in dogs and cats