February is Dental Health Month and its all about the teeth. Unfortunately, no one I know has been able to train dogs and cats to brush their own teeth. Here are some recommendations for keeping your pet’s teeth in tip top shape.

Periodontal disease (gum infection around the teeth) is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats – as early as 3 years old, your pet will likely have early signs of periodontal disease! Prevention is critical. Advanced periodontal disease can cause severe organ problems and pain for your pet. Many health problems are associated with periodontal disease including: bone loss around the teeth, fistulas or holes between the mouth and the nasal cavity, and microscopic changes to the liver, kidney, and heart.

Brushing your pet’s teeth

Daily brushing is the most effective way to prevent periodontal disease. There are a variety of toothbrushes available for your pet, including finger brushes. Also, there are different flavors of toothpaste to help turn the process of brushing into a treat. With some time, training, and patience your pet can learn to enjoy the brushing. At Four Paws we carry poultry flavored enzymatic toothpaste. Yum! We are happy to teach you some tricks to make brushing your pet's teeth enjoyable for everyone.

Tartar-control treats & food

While brushing is best, another easy option is treats and/or food. There are several diets that help scrape tartar off teeth and/or prevent buildup. Do not give your pet bones, they break teeth instead of cleaning them! At Four Paws, we carry Hill’s T/D Dental Care cat & dog food, Hill’s Dental Care Chews, and Purina Pro Plan Dental Chewz. All of these products carry the VOHC Seal of Acceptance and have been clinically proven to reduce plaque and tartar buildup on teeth.

Dental Cleaning

Once tartar has built up on the teeth, the only option is to have a full dental cleaning. Dental cleanings require general anesthesia because our patients won’t open their mouth wide and say “ahh” while we clean their teeth. Every dental cleaning includes a full oral exam, scaling the teeth to remove plaque and tartar, polishing the teeth, and performing any necessary extractions. If needed, we take dental radiographs (x-rays) to determine the health of the tooth roots and the surrounding bone. Questions about anesthesia? Visit our previous blog Anesthesia and Your Pet to learn about the safety measures we have in place to minimize anesthetic risk.

If you want to schedule a dental health checkup or need help learning how to brush your pet's teeth, call us at (406) 542-3838.

Have a wonderful February and happy brushing!