Each February is National Pet Dental Health Month, but dental health is a yearlong journey. Wellness for your cat or dog is greatly enhanced if teeth are brushed regularly. Daily brushing is recommended but even weekly can be beneficial. Brushing the outer surfaces of the teeth are most important and can be done without opening the pet’s mouth. Use toothpaste made for pets, not ours. Our toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed. Toothpaste for pets is flavored to make the experience more pleasant. A small toothbrush, finger brush or even your finger with a gauze square can be utilized. Be patient at first getting the pet used to the procedure a bit at a time. Plan a few minutes of fun activity after brushing – a walk – a special toy that only pops out after brushing – a whole pet massage.
There are several commercial products available to maximize dental health. Pet foods aimed toward oral care and dental treats and chews are sold by veterinarians and consumer stores. Choose carefully – be sure to choose correctly based on the species, breed and health of your pet. Consult your veterinarian for advice. Always give treats and chews with supervision to be sure pet “chews” and refrains from swallowing whole. For lists of products recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council: http://www.vohc.org.