All of my blogs so far have been about the oral health of humans. I'm gonna change things up a bit this week.
It should not come as a surprise to know that animals also have oral health issues. The good news is that the oral health issues of animals are also preventable and treatable.
I'm borrowing some information from the ASPCA. They came up with "Ten Steps to Your Dog's Dental Health". The information is applicable to all animals. Here are ten ways to optimize your pet's oral health:
1. The breath sniff test
It's expected that your dog's breath may not be pleasant. If however your dog's breath is especially offensive, it could be a sign of disease.
2. Lip Service
Lift up on your dog's lips and observe his mouth. You may not know canine oral anatomy, but you don't need to. Just observe for things that don't look normal. If there are any questions, have your dog evaluated.
3. Signs of oral disease
Again, you may not know the anatomy, just observe for abnormalities.
4. Removal of plaque and tarter
Just like humans, have your pet's teeth cleaned at least annually. Failing to do so can lead to bigger issues.
5. Canine tooth brushing kit
Taking your animal to the vet is great, but that would at most only be twice per year. What about the rest of the year? Many dentists joke around and tell their patients to brush the ones they want to keep. So brush your pets's teeth as frequently as possible. Preferably daily.
6. Daily hygiene
Initially, this could prove challenging. You may want to start when your pet is still a puppy. This way they get used to the idea of having their mouths handled regularly.
7. Brushing technique
You want to use a brush and toothpaste that is designed specifically for your pet. The brush heads are smaller than adult human brushes. Brush using a small circular motion. Also, you don't want to use toothpaste designed for humans because your pet may swallow too much fluoride. In small quantities, fluoride is perfectly safe, but too much fluoride is actually poisonous.
8. Know your mouth disorders
This is one of the ASPCA's recommendations. Although I agree that knowing oral pathology is helpful, it isn't practical or necessary. You don't have to be an expert in the abnormal, you're already an expert in the normal. As long as you can spot if something doesn't look right, you're fine. Have a professional evaluate any concerns you may have.
9. Chew on this
Chewing on toys can help remove plaque build up. Your vet can help you choose a toxin-free rawhide or toy.
Ask your vet to recommend a food specifically for your pet. Each animal will have different nutritional requirements throughout their life-time. In general, hard foods are better than soft foods. The hard foods help remove debris from the surfaces of the teeth. Soft foods encourage the accumulation of plaque and tarter.
Keeping your pet's oral health at optimal levels improves overall health and potentially increases the number of years the family pet will remain in the family. Speak to your dentist or veterinarian if there are any questions or concerns regarding your pet's oral health.
Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit www.advanced-smiles.com.