So, February is National Pet Dental Month and what better way to promote dental health than to give a few tips on how to brush your dog’s teeth. Dogs at any age can be acclimated to teeth brushing, it just takes a little patience and consistency.
Just like humans, pets can acquire some serious dental damage from not brushing. By the age of three most dogs have evidence of periodontal disease according to the American Veterinary Dental Collage. Periodontal disease starts as plaque buildup, which secretes under the gum line leading to tooth loss. Gingivitis is also included under periodontal disease. Dental disease is one of the most common preventable diseases! Pets with teeth and gum issues often have sensitivities and pain that can reduce eating and cause a personality change in your otherwise happy pooch. All it takes is a little brushing!
Well, it is officially a new year and that means new resolutions but I’m not talking about your new year’s resolutions. I’m talking about your pet’s new year resolutions. Some of you probably never thought about making a resolution for your tail wagging family member but now is a great time to get into a few new routines with your pets.
Below are a few simple, easy and quick wellness habits to start performing with your pets. These pet goals are a great way to get a little extra bonding time in, keep up with and prevent some major health issues.
Pet Body Assessment. This one is easy and something you are already doing without realizing it. The Pet Body Assessment (PBA) is when you check the entire body of your pet for any lumps, bumps, bruises, cuts, sores, smells and anything else that seems out of the ordinary.
How to do it: Take about ten or fifteen minutes to sit down with your pet and start with their head working down to their tail. Focus on “painting their body” with your hands. You want to touch every part of their eyes, ears, nose, legs, even between their paw pads. If anything is sore, oozing, causing pain or fowl smelling, call up your vet for an appointment. By doing this daily or weekly you will be able to catch anything abnormal and get it checked out right away. You may consider doing an extra PBA after a trip to doggie day care or the dog park as an extra precaution.
Coat Health. Routine brushing for both cat and dogs are beneficial for several reasons. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is that it prevents fur from getting knotted, dirty and matted, which can cause pain for our long-haired furry friends. When matting occurs and is not brushed out immediately mattes get twisted, grow larger and pull painfully on the skin. Brushing also helps with blood flow and circulation. Creating time to brush your pet gives you a second time, aside from the PBA, that you are running your hands over your pet allowing another opportunity to spot any problems.
Nail Health. Along with regular brushing, getting your pet’s nails trimmed regularly is important. Just like their human owners, pets do not like having long nails, which are susceptible to chip, break and splinter. Pet nails will curl the longer they get causing infections if left unattended. Lastly long nails create the most damage in the long term by changing where a pet places pressure when walking. This pressure change can lead to a realignment of the foot bones over time to cause arthritis and joint pain.
Dental Care. Keeping your pet’s mouth as clean as yours should be a top priority for you this year. Just like you, your pet’s mouth can build up plaque that can cause fractured teeth and periodontal disease. If left unattended bad teeth can cause your pet pain that reduces their appetite and may even change their natural, happy temperament. Regular bushing, preferably daily, will help prevent these common ailments from entering your pooch’s mouth. Any dog, regardless of age can be conditioned to teeth brushing.
How to do it: The best advice I can give is to go slowly. Your dog needs to get familiar with the brush before it gets poked around in their mouth. Put pet toothpaste on the brush and let your dog lick the brush as if it were a treat. This can be done daily and will help the dog associate the brush with a treat or reward. Once your pooch is comfortable with the brush you can slowly start brushing, do not force it upon your dog, you want this activity to remain as stress-free as possible for both of you. When brushing it is crucial to use pet toothpaste and only pet toothpaste. Like little kids, dogs do not understand the concept of spitting out toothpaste and will swallow it. Pet toothpaste is made with nontoxic ingredients so your pet can swallow without harm.
Vets understand the importance of dental hygiene and have dedicated the entire month of February to promoting dental education. Many vet clinics offer discounts on dental services during February, so call your vet now to get more information and an appointment scheduled!