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A healthy smile is as important for your pets as it is for you!

We spend several minutes morning and evening, cleaning our teeth and using dental floss or mouthwash. So it always surprises me that we don’t often consider the dental health of our pets in the same way. Bad oral hygiene can have an impact on health, far past what goes on with gums. as we

One thing I would love my clients to do more of is to check their pet’s teeth more regularly. There are a whole lot of teeth we don’t see when our pets eat, pant, or meow in our direction. You don’t need to open the mouth to check teeth. By gently lifting the lips, especially towards the corners of the mouth, you can have a good check.

Did you know that most adult dogs have 42 teeth, and cats 30?! Many of my clients are shocked by the amount of tartar that has silently built up without their notice. Our pets will often continue to eat, even with very painful dental disease. This can lead to the problem being frequently overlooked, as we assume incorrectly, that there can not be an issue if they don’t stop eating.

Take things slowly - some of our pets may not be used to having their teeth checked. Getting your pet used to having their teeth examined and cleaned is about starting very small, very slow, and with lots of praise and reward to build towards a good routine. If you are lucky enough to be starting with a young puppy or kitten - introduce some dental inspection into your daily training and interactions.

There are many products on the market aimed at helping the dental health of our pets. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily, really is the very best way to help maintain and improve dental health. Use an enzymatic toothpaste that is designed for use in pets - human toothpaste can have toxic ingredients for our pets so please avoid it. The enzymes in the pet toothpaste will help to attack and reduce the oral bacteria that allow for the formation of tartar. So even a quick application of toothpaste or brushing daily is very effective.

If your pet doesn’t enjoy tooth brushing or even want you to smear the toothpaste around their mouth, consider the range of dental toys and chews available. Many of these can be combined with enzymatic toothpaste to help keep things clean. As a rule, if your chew is going to help clean teeth - it needs to last longer than a few bites. BUT, recent trends toward very hard chews based on antlers and bones have been associated with an increased risk of fractures to teeth and should be avoided. Look for the following acronyms - Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) or the European Veterinary Dental Society (EVDS) for chews that are approved as safe and effective for oral health.

For dogs that just won’t chew, and for cats, there are ranges of veterinary mouthwashes and even powders that can be added to food to help reduce tartar. Speak to your vet for different ideas, many of these products are widely available in pet shops and veterinary surgeries.

Finally, your pet should have their teeth checked as part of their annual veterinary health check. Use this opportunity to ask for advice and demonstrations on dental care. Despite good home care, your pet will sometimes need a cleaning treatment under anaesthetic at the vets. Although this can seem costly, prompt intervention and cleaning can reduce later costs of tooth extraction.