Hopefully, you and your beloved fur baby have started daily home dental care. Congratulations – you both rock! Studies have shown that daily or every–other–day brushing has a significant reduction in plaque and calculus – as compared to weekly or every–other–week brushing, so you’ve got a leg up on your pet’s oral health care. That said, some pets need a little more! Read on to see if your pet may be one of those animals.
Pets that may require more than just brushing or wiping:
- Many purebred dogs and cats, as well as small or miniature dogs, have increased occurrence of periodontal disease compared to medium and large dogs. Brushing or wiping tooth surfaces using products with plaque-fighting ingredients can help keep periodontal disease at bay. Talk to your veterinarian about chlorhexidine (0.12%), hexametaphosphate, and other proprietary enzymes for your pet’s teeth.
- Medium and large dogs, and pets that are avid chewers, may have fractured, chipped, or worn teeth. Since these dogs tend not to show signs of pain, a daily, close examination of their teeth helps identify issues soon after they occur.
- If your veterinarian has diagnosed areas of periodontal disease in your pet, even after you started a brushing regimen, twice a day dental care (and adding the aforementioned plaque-fighting ingredients) may be needed – along with more frequent professional veterinary therapy, too.
Do I have to use a toothbrush?
A soft-bristled, appropriately-sized brush is great, but there are other items that can be used, including a clean washcloth, Q-tip, fingerbrush, gauze pad, or dental wipe. Remember, it’s the daily physical disruption of the plaque from the tooth surface that is important, not the item doing the disruption. Even allowing your pet to chew on a toothbrush that is preloaded with pet toothpaste works, too, as they are brushing while chewing!
How do I brush the insides of my dog’s teeth?
What about treats or chews?
Remember, brushing is best. However, chewing is a great stress-reliever for our pets. Chews, treats and safe, appropriate chew toys have a benefit if chewing occurs for at least ten minutes at a stretch. It is essential that chews and treats should be provided when you can supervise; all too often, our enthusiastic pets attempt to swallow an edible chew when it is still too large and may pose a choking hazard. Make sure chew toys are larger than your pet’s mouth and, when in doubt, size up. No toy is indestructible, so inspect each toy and toss if damage is found.
My cat/dog has food sensitivities. What can I use?
C.E.T.® Enzymatic Toothpaste (vanilla-mint flavor only) does not contain any animal or grain proteins. Other options for products are Maxi/Guard® Oral Cleansing Gel or Maxi/Guard® OraZn that even the most discriminating pets will accept. This product also comes in the form of a wipe pad.
For reward treats after brushing, mini marshmallows can be used; Dr. Andrea Meyer, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota’s board-certified veterinary dermatologist, recommends these as treats for pets who are sensitive to food ingredients.
My cat/dog doesn’t like the taste of the oral rinse.
Some pets object to the chlorhexidine rinse as it is squirted into their mouths. You can try applying it with a toothbrush or Q-tip. Other options for products are Maxi/Guard® Oral Cleansing Gel or Maxi/Guard® OraZn; this product also comes in the form of a wipe pad.
My dog allows me to scale their teeth with dental scalers. Isn’t that better than brushing?
That’s great that your pet is so trusting! The problem is that scaling without also polishing the teeth scratches their surface, making the enamel rougher and actually increasing plaque and tartar formation. That’s taking one step forward and two back! Instead, train your advanced student to accept the daily use of an electric toothbrush and/or Waterpik® device to remove the plaque gently and safely.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this series on brushing your pet’s teeth! If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s at-home dental care or oral health, contact your family veterinarian.
Note: Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota and their Dentistry & Oral Surgery Service do not have any relationship with the companies or specific products mentioned in this article.