Most people know that neglecting to properly take care of your teeth can negatively affect your overall health. While the circumstances are somewhat different for pets, the disease/compromised teeth correlation still applies, though through different pathways.
Pets, for example, can tolerate quantities and varieties of bacteria and other microorganisms in their mouth that would otherwise seriously impact the health of a human being. Cats can bathe using their tongue; dogs, likewise, lick or eat things that a human being would have difficulty tolerating or digesting. Obviously, their immune systems generally tolerate much more than ours can, at least in this regard.
When it comes to teeth, however, animals can succumb to many of the same dental problems people suffer from, including cavities, gum disease, infections and, in worst case scenarios, cancer. Accordingly, here are some ideas on how to keep your pet’s teeth (and over-all health) relatively healthy:
1. Request dental cleaning and exams from your vet; don’t wait for your vet to make the suggestion—most vets are too busy dealing with specific ailments and a long list of “patient” waiting outside their office to push you into doing the right thing.
2. Brush their teeth when and if possible. Don’t attempt to do this on your own, however, before researching the topic or getting help from a professional. Some precautions and tips to keep in mind include:
- Don’t use toothpaste made for human beings or baking soda
- Use toothbrushes specially made for pets
- Start slowly, maybe using your finger dipped in liquid they wouldn’t object to
- Don’t brush their teeth after a meal but, rather, in between meals
3. Purchase toys for your pet specifically designed to help them maintain healthy jaws, teeth and gums. Look for toys that specifically say they don’t contain any toxic chemicals or materials; also stay away from a toy that is too hard, small enough for the animal to possibly choke on, or contains fabrics or materials the animal may confuse with things like upholstered furniture, drapes or household decorations.
4. Start your pet off the right way by getting them to eat vegetables and fruit—you may have to get creative, such as by using the blender to maybe mix meats with fruits and vegetables; fruits and vegetables help to keep teeth clean, while at the same time providing essential vitamins and minerals.
5. Give your animal dry (but not too hard) and chewable treats—these can help them cleanse their teeth even as they eat. If possible, get the low-fat, simple-ingredients varieties. It’s a good idea to use these also as rewards when they behave themselves—in other words, you’ll be, excuse the expression, “killing two birds with one stone.”
6. Feed them the right type of food on a regular basis—alternate between soft and teeth-beneficial hard food. The “right” type of food should be fresh, preferably not from a can (which can contain Bisphenol A or BPA), and nutritionally-packed (including calcium-enriched for strong teeth).
7. Some bones are good for your pet’s dental health, preferably the type that won’t splinter or easily break apart when chewed—both natural and synthetic bones may help the cause.
For the same reasons we say dental good health prevents many medical problems for human beings, keeping your pet’s teeth healthy and relatively clean is simply the right thing to do, if you care about them.
To that end, consider the ideas given here, as well as others you may find elsewhere on how to keep your pet’s teeth in relatively good condition.
One place where you are sure to find the help and veterinary care you need is Dr. Gilsleider’s Animal Medical Center in Claremore. In practice for 34 years, Dr. Gilsleider’s highly competent and amicable crew is sure to put a smile not only on your pet’s countenance but on yours as well.
After all, if your pet is healthy and well-taken-care-of, doesn’t that make you happy?