A white dog being pettedDental care isn’t just for humans. By now, most pet owners are aware of the importance of good dental hygiene for their pets, and this is evidenced by the hundreds of pet home dental care products available to pet owners everywhere. But, do these treats, chews, rinses, sprays, and water additives really have what it takes to keep your pet’s mouth in tiptop shape?

Brushing is Best!

First, and foremost, there is no substitute for daily brushing when it comes to the care of your pet’s teeth.  Although, for many, the task may seem daunting, it needn’t be. Brushing your dog or cat’s teeth can take just a minute a day and the pet specific toothbrush and toothpaste products we recommend are safe and easy to use.

We recommend introducing your pet to its toothbrush and toothpaste at as  young of an age as possible. Start by offering a dab of toothpaste on your fingertip at the same time every day.  After a week or two, offer the toothpaste on the toothbrush and gently brush over the outside of the teeth.  As your pet’s comfort level grows, you can start gently massaging the toothpaste over the teeth and gums, working around the mouth.  When your pet is fully comfortable with the process, it should take about a minute to brush both upper and lower teeth.

Be patient and stay with it, as daily brushing is the best way to avoid tartar build-up and the need for annual dental cleanings. For instructions on the correct way to brush your pet’s teeth, check out our video, which demonstrates the steps and products to use.

Other Pet Home Dental Care Products

It can seem mighty tempting to grab an oral rinse or a package of dental chews for your pet, especially if you’re having a hard time getting him or her to accept tooth brushing. Some over-the-counter pet dental products can be useful additions to your pet’s oral care regimen, but it’s important to do your research first.

Consider the following before spending your money on a pet home dental care product:

  • We recommend certain dental chews and rinses, but it is important to note that not all pet home dental care products are safe. Some dental chews can break into larger pieces and pose a choking hazard. Sprays and rinses may contain alcohol and other chemicals that may not be good for your pet if the product is swallowed too quickly. There is also the issue of extra calories that could pose problems for an overweight pet. Our veterinarian will help you decide if chews and rinses are a good option for your pet.
  • Stay away from hard items, such as dried bones, hooves, or antlers, which can chip and fracture the teeth, causing additional problems for your pet.
  • Just because a manufacturer makes a claim on a product label, that does not make it true. Before you buy, check the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s website for a list of pet dental products that have actually been shown to support dental health.
  • No pet home dental care product, regardless of what it is, can cure advanced dental disease. If your pet is suffering from bad breath, tartar buildup, red or swollen gums, he or she needs to be seen by a veterinarian and have the problem addressed professionally.

Dental-Specific Diets

Pet prescription dental diets tend to be a better choice than treats, as they are designed to be chewed and swallowed, and will not make your pet sick or add too many calories when given in appropriate portions as recommended by your veterinarian. A dental diet will also contain the proper balance of nutrition that your pet needs on a daily basis. Our veterinarian will help you determine if a dental diet is right for your pet. We recommend and carry Science Diet Oral Plus and have seen excellent results with this product, especially when used with daily brushing.

Proper Home Dental Care Counts

Besides bringing your pet to the veterinarian for its annual or semi-annual exam and oral check-up, and a dental cleaning when needed, daily brushing at home is the single most effective way to minimize tartar buildup and plaque, and keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

If you have any questions about your pet’s dental care, please don’t hesitate to contact your team at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center. We are committed to helping pets have healthy teeth and gums, and are happy to help make that easier for you.