What you need to know about caring for your pet’s teeth

Sponsored by VCA Family and Oahu Veterinary Center

Dental care is not only essential for humans — it’s also very important for pets! Canine Periodontal disease affects 80% of dogs by the age of three and is one of the most common and serious pet health problems. While it is important to have your pet’s teeth cleaned regularly by a veterinarian, at-home prevention is just as important.

The most effective way to keep your pet’s gums healthy is to brush their teeth daily. If plaque is removed daily, tartar will not form and progress to periodontal disease. Each pet should have his or her own toothbrush, with proper toothbrushes being soft and angled in order to reach the back teeth. As pets age and develop tooth and gum disease, dental wipes can help control plaque if brushing causes pain.

So what is the proper brushing technique? Toothbrush bristles should be placed at a 45-degree angle where the gum and teeth meet. Using a gentle oval pattern and covering three to four teeth at a time, the bristles should be moved around the teeth. Ten short oval motions should be completed before moving the toothbrush to a new location in the mouth. The outside upper teeth do the most chewing and should get more attention.

Human toothpastes contain abrasives and detergents and should not be used in dogs as they will swallow the paste. There are many toothpaste flavors available and most dogs seem to prefer the seafood or poultry-flavored types.

Chew treats can also be helpful in preventing plaque and tartar buildup. Some rawhides and biscuits have anti-tartar ingredients. It is not recommended that dogs chew on dried natural bones or hard nylon products, as they are often associated with broken teeth and damaged gums.

About Dr. Michael King:
Dr. King is a graduate of Michigan State University and has been practicing veterinary medicine for 14 years.  He is currently the Area Medical Director for all VCA hospitals on Oahu.

For more information: vcahospitals.com