Remember a time when our parents used to nag at us to brush our teeth twice a day, every day? And it was a great thing that they did! Most of us probably saw toothbrushing as a dreaded task when we were young but had we not stuck to that habit, we’ll indeed have a tough time trying to reverse the repercussions now. This is the same with our furry companions. To ensure that our pets have healthy gums and teeth, it is crucial for us to brush their teeth.
Why do cats and dogs need to have their teeth brushed?
Cats and dogs need to have their pearly whites cleaned regularly lest plaque and tartar accumulate to cause dental problems and gum diseases. Keep in mind that our beloved pets can start to have dental issues from as young as just 2-3 years in age! We’d loathe for our pets to suffer from swollen, painful gums and even tooth loss, won’t we?
What are the common dental problems in pets caused by a lack of regular dental care?
We love it when our dogs slobber us with kisses and our cats boop us, but we reckon that no one likes the stinky breath that <i>could</i> potentially accompany them! The simplest way to prevent bad breath in your pets is to brush their teeth on a regular basis to prevent a buildup of plaque that can form on their teeth and gums to produce foul-smelling breath.
Tartar and plaque
Plaque is a gummy substance that forms on your pet’s teeth within a few hours after a meal and which begins to harden within 24 hours. As the plaque continues to build up and mineralize, it transforms into tartar, a rough and porous substance. This rough surface is a hotbed for bacteria to grow and multiply, causing inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) which can lead to painful bleeding. When not removed, tartar can also build up along the gum line to push the gums away from the roots of your pet’s teeth. As your pet’s gums get pushed back more and more, the sensitive, enamel-free part of its tooth is exposed, which can cause sensitivity and pain. What’s worse, bacteria from the tartar can be absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in heart diseases and other health conditions.
Periodontal diseases are one of the most common problems that can affect your pets. It is a progressive disease that is often caused when gingivitis is left untreated, worsening inflammation in the gum and causing your pet’s gum to recede from the tooth. When this happens, the gum leaves a space between it and the tooth — this space is called a “pocket”. If this “pocket” becomes infected, the gum and tissue that supports the tooth become destroyed, bringing about tooth loss.
Tips for brushing your pet’s teeth
To brush your cat or dog’s teeth, you will need to select a suitable toothbrush. There are many toothbrushes specifically designed for our furry friends that are available on the market. If you have a smaller dog or cat, then a toothbrush meant for toddlers is actually a great option.
If you’re introducing toothbrushing to your pet for the very first time, it is important that you get your pets used to the experience. This means letting it sniff at the toothbrush, squeezing out a dollop of toothpaste to get them used to the taste as well as teaching them to become acclimated to the feel of your fingers in or on their mouth.
When selecting toothpaste, please do not go for human toothpaste because it contains certain chemicals like fluoride, which is harmful to your pets when swallowed. Always choose toothpaste that has been specially made for dogs and cats. Often, pet toothpaste is available in a wide variety of flavours like poultry, beef, and mint, making the whole toothbrushing experience a much more pleasant one. And if toothbrushing is a positive experience for your pet, it will be for you too!
Of course, most importantly, always offer treats and lots of praises while brushing your pet’s teeth and afterwards when the deed is done.
As soon as brushing becomes a part of your pet’s daily routine, your pet will begin to expect and even come to enjoy it. It is highly recommended that you brush your furry companion’s teeth at least three times a week to help remove plaque and prevent the accumulation of tartar. Apart from regular toothbrushing, taking your pet for professional dental cleaning once or twice yearly is also crucial to maintaining dental health!
To conclude, yes, cats and dogs need to have their teeth brushed! Did you know that approximately 65% of dogs and 85% of cats above the age of three have periodontal disease? This condition cannot be reversed! Let’s all help our furry companions maintain their pearly whites and save them from unnecessary gum discomfort by brushing their teeth regularly. Should you need help with this task, we’re just a phone call away!