Hello all Pet Parents and Guardians!
You may not have known this, but February is Pet Dental Health Month!
Dental care is coming more and more into light these days and I’m very happy to see it. It has always been an area that I feel doesn’t get talked to pet parents enough by their groomers, because maybe even groomers don’t know much about how to maintain dental health for your pet to avoid bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and very costly vet visits to get them cleaned or even pulled if the disease/decay progresses too far. I will have information for both dogs and cats in each section! I am not sponsored by any products talked about, and please remember that I am not a vet. Please make sure your vet is checking your pet’s teeth when going in for check ups!
Food Choice: There is a huge, detrimental, myth out there that feeding your pet dry kibble is going to hello scrape the plaque of their teeth. I hate to tell you this, but it’s the same thing as thinking that consuming pretzels and chips are going to do the same for us. Most dry kibble is filled with starch and fillers like corn which add to the growth of bacteria. Now, there is some kibble out there that is created to help with dental care but from what I’ve read most veterinarians recommended focusing on feeding a combination of high quality dry and wet pet food. The better quality food you feed, the less fillers and additives that will coat your dog’s teeth and they will be a much healthier pet!
Treats: Although our pets’ food is not going to help their teeth, there are plenty of treats that do focus on this! These treats are hard, and shaped to help scrape off plaque. Some popular brands are Dentastix by Purina, Greenies and Whimzee, with most brands selling a variation for cats and dogs. I trust you to read up on what brand works best for you and you pet! And please read the feeding instructions to make sure you are not giving your pet too many treats!
Toys: There are lots of toys designed to keep our pets teeth looking good! Both dog and cat toys exist and often are a hard but malleable runner with small spikes to clean their teeth. For dogs, rope toys are also great as they can act like floss in a sense. I’ll throw in hard bones and antlers here for dogs, and I have recently read that some cats do enjoy chewing on sticks that would help too! Pet safe bones and sticks of course!
Toothbrush/Toothpaste: Now, I’m not sure why but it feels most pet parents just don’t seem to think daily brushing with a toothbrush and paste is possible. But you can make it a part of your nightly routine! Now, when beginning to get your pet used to having their teeth brushed I would avoid using mint flavors. I can only speak from personal experience but most dogs react the best to peanut butter flavored toothpaste! This seems like it wouldn’t really help the smell so much, but having that bacteria cleaned out will really help! Although I do not groom cats, I would still avoid mint. Try chicken or seafood flavored! If your pet just will not let you use a toothbrush at first, try using a dental finger brush. They slide right over your finger and are a soft rubber with soft bristles. Pet toothpaste is safe for pets to consume so no need to worry about them swallowing their toothpaste!
Dental Gel/Water Additives/Fresh Breath Sprays: Starting with what I feel is the most important item in this section, dental gel. I love gels myself, as it helps loosen plaque build up and kills germs and bacteria. Most gels will tell you to wait 30 minutes before they can eat or drink (which are the same instructions for most human mouth washes!). I really feel this is great to pair with toothbrushing since it can be hard to get every area of a pet’s mouth! Water additives are another area, and what is great is now they have additives that not alone focus on your pet’s dental health but can also help with skin and coat, digestion, and other areas. Always consult your vet if you have any questions about what would help your pet with their specific needs! And please read those instructions to know how much and how often to add these to your pet’s water. Lastly, the spray. These sprays help keep your pet’s breath minty fresh while also killing bacteria. Just a spray or two is all you need! When I use this on dogs (sorry cat owners, I’ll update this when I try this with my cat), I usually try and go for the sides of the mouth instead of straight on. You will avoid a lot of accidental sprays in your dog’s nose that way!
I’m sure there are some specific toys and products that I missed in this list, but I hope this helps you take better care of your pet’s teeth! A personal goal that I am going to start doing this February for my kitty is to pick 2 different methods ex. New dental toy along with dental gel. I hope to keep her teeth healthy right alongside you all! Always feel free to reach out with questions, but again any medical questions or specific to your dogs teeth will have to be answered by a veterinarian.