Owners sometimes get frustrated by the maintenance required to keep their pets’ mouths clean and smelling fresh. The good news is that there are tools that can help make this job easier and more effective. The basic tenants of preventing periodontal disease haven’t changed; you still need to have your pet’s mouth professional cleaned and assessed on a regular basis, but we think these tips will make brushing at home, much easier. Read on and enjoy and if I don’t see you, have a wonderful, happy holiday season!

Dental Cleaning is an Opportunity to Understand How Animals (and People!) Think

Learn to understand what motivates your pet.  My dog, Addie, wanted nothing to do with tooth brushing on my first attempt. I was demoralized and felt like a pet-parent failure. Then I tried a fresh approach. I used her love of food to incentivize her interest in oral care and make it fun for both of us. Now we have a regular tooth brushing habit that she looks forward to. Watch how excited she gets when I take out her tooth brush.

 Some Products That Can Help

Modern periodontal medicine is moving away from chronic use of antibiotics and oral disinfectants for the prevention of periodontal disease. There are a host of new products entering the market that are comprised of natural substances that reduce plaque’s ability to stick on the surface of teeth. Others lower the chemicals in the mouth that cause foul odors. While none of these products can substitute for a professional cleaning, used regularly in conjunction with brushing and healthy pet foods, they can extend the time between professional cleanings and generally improve your pet’s oral health.  

One Last Tip to Chew On

Did you know that there are 400-700 pounds of force in a single dog bite? Lots of dental treats make good use of dogs’ strong jaw muscles.  They’re designed with the idea that every time your pet chews, the surface of the treat will rub against the surface of the tooth and help to scrape it free of plaque. Of course, regions in the mouth that are not subject to these forces or where the treat is unlikely to rub against the surface of the tooth, won’t benefit by the use of these products,  Any pet owner that relies on solely on dental chew treats will likely get poor results.  Still, these products, like those mentioned above, are  helpful in extending the time between professional dental cleanings. I recommend extrudable or rawhide chews that are manufactured in the USA. My favorite, Good Buddy™ by Castor and Pollux, is available at our practice. If you’re using edible bones such as Greenies™ or Dentabones™, be sure to factor in the additional caloric value to avoid weight gain. Under no circumstances should you give your dog Nylabone™ (hard plastic variety), hooves, antlers, bones or any other hard items that do not soften as they chew. These sort of treats can cause painful tooth fractures and actually work against your efforts to keep your pet’s mouth clean. As always, call us if you have any questions.  I look forward to seeing you and the furry (or feathered!) members of your family in 2015!