February is Pet Dental Health Month! Julie is working with Waukesha Small Animal Hospital and month-long and posting pictures and DAILY program techniques to help you establish a brushing program for YOUR pet! Just visit: www.facebook.com/WaukeshaSmallAnimalHospital and "Like" their page to view the program!
The following is a handout that she had written to help owners begin the process of home dental care...Enjoy!
In-Home Pet Dental Care Tips
We would like to take a few minutes to help you establish a pet dental care program. Because in-home dental care is severely neglected in pets, our goal is to make your in-home dental program as easy to follow as possible so that your pet can benefit today.
If you’re like most pet owners, you’re thinking, “Pet Dental Program? - No Way!”, but let’s review a few facts that may have you reconsidering…
Oral disease is one of the most commonly diagnosed health-related concerns in both dogs (particularly small breeds) and cats!
Over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3!
Periodontal disease is a VERY common problem in our canine companions, with smaller breeds leading the percentage count…but there are even vaccines now to help. Ask one of technicians about them today!
All oral disease starts with the buildup of bacteria in your pet’s mouth
After your pet eats, saliva, food, and bacteria combine to form plaque on your pet’s teeth. Plaque turns into tartar as bacteria grow in the plaque and calcium salts get deposited.
Gum disease includes yellow and brown build-up of tartar along the gum line, inflamed gums and persistent bad breath.
Periodontal Disease develops when bacterial plaque is present. This disease can be very painful and result in dysfunction and tooth loss.
Systemic complications in your pet’s heart, liver, and kidneys occur when the excess oral bacteria travels into your pet’s bloodstream.
“So what can I do about it?”
Several ways are available for helping keep your pet’s mouth healthy:
Having appropriate dental chew bones and toys can help your pet’s mouth stay cleaner. Marrow bones, dental kongs, nylabones with spikes and other gum massagers can help break up tartar, keep saliva rinsing the teeth and keep your pet’s mouth healthier as well.
Oral wipes – There are dental wipes now available to help you wipe your pet’s teeth without having to maneuver a toothbrush.
Brushing Teeth – By far this is the most efficient way of scrubbing tartar off of your pet’s teeth…and brushing your pet’s teeth does not have to be all that difficult if approached correctly.
Water additives – Some water additives are available to try to help freshen your pet’s breath and break up tartar – and you only have to add a few drops to your pet’s water bowl!
Dental diets – Many diets are now available to help break up and prevent tartar on your pet’s teeth. We can help you determine which one will fit not only your pet’s oral needs, but their nutritional ones as well.
Dental Prophys (scaling and polishing) by your pet’s veterinary clinic.
How to Establish a Good Dental Program at Home:
• Introduce the brushing program to your pet gradually. Every step should be rewarded and even though the end goal is being able to brush your pet’s teeth, you want to make sure that the end-goal of brushing all of the teeth and gum line is broken down into manageable sessions filled with positive rewards.
• Have some healthy treats handy and remember that breaking each step into mini-sessions will make putting it all together (a full brushing) later that much easier.
• Finger brushes are typically the easiest way to brush your pet’s teeth and are not as awkward to manage as an actual pet toothbrush.
The larger pet toothbrushes are used to get under the gumline better, however.
• If your pet is small (cat or small dog) holding them in your lap helps. (Or having the pet on a kitchen or bathroom counter, table, etc, can also be beneficial.) Teaching your big dog to sit-stay or even play dead helps. Do NOT struggle with your pet or make the experience bad…keep giving treats for sitting still or even for offering ANY good behavior. If your pet is not used to sitting in your lap, make the sessions short and end when your pet stays still a few times.
Then, increase time required being still in order for your pet to earn a treat. When you can get your pet to remain still for 30-60 seconds, then start adding touching your pet’s jaw line and lifting their lips. Remember to treat for each thing that you do, so your pet thinks having their mouth messed with is an OUTSTANDING thing to have done.
When you can lift your pet’s lips and expose their teeth, start applying your finger to the teeth briefly (just a touch, really) and treating for that and letting your pet have a break after each short session. If you have liver sausage, tuna juice, squeeze cheese, or another tasty, mushy treat on your finger, your pet can start to understand that your finger in his mouth is a good thing!
A lot of pets even just like the poultry or mint pet toothpaste, so you could just use that as a treat!
Do NOT use human toothpaste as it can upset your pet’s stomach and even be toxic! Your pet has to swallow the paste we put into their mouth because they cannot spit it out like us, so use enzymatic toothpaste made specifically for your pet.
• Next, you’ll want to add the finger brush to your finger and do the steps again. You can dip your finger brush in tuna juice, bouillon broth, etc, to make your finger brush in your pet’s mouth tolerable (even desirable).
o Concentrate on the outside of your pet’s teeth. Your pet’s tongue naturally cleans the inside of the teeth quite well, so you don’t typically have to brush this area as often. Keep dipping your finger brush in the “tasty toothpaste” and in circular motions “brush” the teeth and gumline. If your pet WANTS to chew on the toothbrush, that can be used to help clean the inside areas, but it’s not typically necessary.
• Take breaks often if your pet is still a little uncomfortable. Give lots of praise (verbal) for sitting still while you’re doing each session.
Remember to begin and end the session happily and excitedly, to help your pet be excited for the whole process too!
• If your pet is still having trouble, ask us for help!
CVT & Owner of Awesome Paws Academy