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How to provide dental care for pets at home?
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How to provide dental care for pets at home?

Brushing your pet's teeth daily is one of the simplest ways to prevent the onset of dental problems in them, say experts

Dental care for pets

Most of us feel the need to consult a dentist when we experience minor pain or discomfort in the teeth. However, did you know that dental health issues are common in dogs and cats too? It’s easy to overlook these issues in the initial phase as one could miss out on the symptoms. Experts emphasize the importance of paying more attention to your pet’s dental care early on as neglecting them could lead to severe ailments over time.

According to Dr Prabhanshu Kumar, a veterinarian from Jharkhand, pet parents should take their pets for dental check-ups regularly. You can do this during their regular vet check-ups or at least once every five to six months.

“Both dogs and cats can get harmful dental diseases,” says Dr Kumar. “They may lose their appetite, as a result of which they become weaker. Most dental conditions progress gradually, so if one does not seek medical attention in the initial stages, the issues could become irreversible.”

Common dental diseases that affect cats and dogs

Plaque, a sticky film containing bacteria that develops on your furry companion’s teeth over time, is one of the most common dental problems seen in dogs and cats. It is caused when food particles mix with saliva and stick to the surface of your pets’ teeth. “Over time, the same plaque becomes tartar, which is even rougher and thicker,” says Dr Ajitesh Kumar, veterinary physician, Nextdoor Vet, Bangalore.

“Your pet is more likely to develop plaque and tartar if they do not have a regular brushing routine,” adds Ajitesh. “These deposits are difficult to ger rid of later. Besides, long-term accumulation of tartar and plaque can lead to the onset of more severe conditions including gingivitis [swelling and redness of the gums] and periodontitis [a serious gum infection]. The latter affects the supporting structures of the teeth, including the gums and bone, and can even lead to tooth loss if left untreated.”

Symptoms of dental problems in your pet include bad breath, yellowing of teeth near the gum line, trouble chewing food, constantly pressing paws to the mouth, dropping food from their mouth and bloodstains in water bowls.

Pet dental care at home: Regular brushing

Maintaining a regular brushing routine for your pet is the most vital and healthy habit to prevent dental issues. Dr Ajitesh explains that there are two varieties of pet toothbrushes — finger brushes and standard ones. He adds, “Sometimes, pets can throw tantrums when you try to brush their teeth. One can introduce brushing into their routine early on to avoid this.”

“While brushing your pet’s teeth, you can use a circular motion and focus on each side of the teeth for at least 30 seconds. With this, you ensure that all the food particles are removed from their mouth,” advises Dr Kumar.

Dental treats and toys

Toys and dental treats that encourage chewing and reduce plaque and tartar buildup while also reducing boredom are effective in ensuring proper dental care for your pets at home.

Dr Kumar shares, “Pet parents should be extremely cautious when choosing dental toys for their fur babies. Opt for soft ones, as they are not very rigid and rough on the teeth and gums. With harder toys, the risk of dental fractures or injuries during play rises.”

Diet and dental care

Diets high in carbohydrates and sugar lead to the build-up of harmful bacteria that cause plaque and tartar buildup, which is detrimental to your pets’ oral health. “Food such as bread and biscuits are not suitable for pets and can affect their dental health. Moreover, when it gets stuck between their teeth, it can lead to bacterial infections,” says Dr Ajitesh.

“If you do occasionally give them something sweet to eat, make sure to brush their teeth promptly to remove food particles and sweet ingredients between the teeth,” says Dr Kumar.

Takeaways

  • Dental problems are common in both dogs and cats. Hence, pet parents should get regular dental examinations for their furry companions. This can be a part of their routine veterinary check-ups.
  • Plaque is the most prevalent dental issue in dogs and cats. It can even turn into tartar over time.
  • It is important to brush pets’ teeth regularly to avoid dental problems.
  • You can also give them toys and dental treats that promote chewing to maintain your pets’ dental health at home.

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