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Pet Dental Health Month – Top tips for a healthy smile!

The health of your mouth can have a significant impact on your general health and wellbeing, and it’s no different for pets! Dental health is a critical part of your pet’s overall health, and just like us, dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems.

Neglecting oral hygiene can cause pets to suffer from a broad range of oral problems, leading to issues like tartar build up, gum disease and even more serious health problems like heart disease, lung disease and kidney disease.

With some figures reporting over 80% of dogs suffer from some kind of gum disease while around 70% of cats are affected by dental disease by the time they are three-years-old knowing how to look after their teeth is an important part of keeping your furry friend healthy.

Signs of a problem with your pet’s teeth or mouth might include;
• Smelly breath
• Difficulty eating
• A change in behaviour
• Weight loss
• Pain or rubbing at the mouth
• Excess drooling or salivation
• Redness or bleeding around the gums

Top tips to prevent dental health issues in pets

Effective dental care is as critical for pets as it is for humans. When it comes to dental health care in pets, offense is the best defence. Being proactive and having a great care routine is essential for helping your pet keep dental disease at bay.As February is Pet Dental Health Month, we thought now is the perfect time to share our top tips for a healthy smile.

Regular and effective brushing
Cleaning your pet’s teeth is the most effective way to prevent them from developing oral health problems. Regular brushing will not only lower the risk of them developing gum disease, dental disease, and many more dental-related illnesses, but can prevent the build-up of plaque (which when hardened can only be removed by a vet).

To maintain healthy teeth and gums, we recommend that you brush your pet’s teeth 2-4 times a week. However, it is important to use the right equipment; a soft bristled brush is best, and ensure you use a special pet toothpaste (as the fluoride in human toothpaste can be toxic to pets). If in doubt, ask your vet to recommend a suitable toothpaste for your pet.

If you pet is hesitant to you brushing their teeth, try letting them lick the toothpaste off your finger initially, then work up to running your finger over their teeth, before eventually swapping to a toothbrush.

Regular brushing will also help them gain fresher breath – something that I’m sure many of you will appreciate!

Feed a healthy diet for healthy teeth!
Another similarity you share with your pet is that you both need a healthy balanced diet – not just for oral health but for the benefit of the whole body! Alongside regular brushing, to maintain healthy teeth and gums you should feed your pet a nutritious balanced diet. Here are four diet guidelines that will keep your pet smiling.

Use a dental diet – Some dry pet foods are specially designed to keep your pet’s teeth clean by scraping away plaque as they eat. Speak to your vet about the best and most reliable dental diets for your pet.

Dental chews and treats – These can be effective in reducing the build-up of plaque. Just make sure that they are formulated for this purpose by always reading the label before you buy, and as most chews and treats contain lots of calories it’s best to use them sparingly!

Cut out sugary snacks – Human treats are not meant for pets! Treat your pet but be careful not to overdo it…even if your pet is giving you the puppy dog eyes.

Beware of teeth-wrecking toys and chews – You should be wary of giving pets hard toys, raw bones or anything else they may find difficult to chew, as they can increase the risk of tooth fractures and breaks.

Visit your vet regularly
Similarly to the dentist, your vet isn’t just there for when your pet has an issue! The best cure is prevention and visiting the vet regularly will help you avoid any potential problems before they arise.

Your veterinary nurse or vet is also the best person to ask for guidance on how to maintain great oral health in your pet(s) between visits. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions because keeping on top of your pet’s oral hygiene can have positive effects overall.

Just like us, pets benefit from maintaining good oral hygiene. By staying on top of your pet’s dental needs you can help to keep them happy and healthy. In fact, it’s as important for our pets to receive dental care as it is for humans, so maintaining good oral hygiene should be as much a part of your pet’s life as it is yours.