As the loving parent of an adorable furbaby, you will undoubtedly want to do a great job of caring for your pet. In addition to the basic requirements of food, water and shelter, one of your other key responsibilities involves helping to look after your pet’s teeth.
The importance of pet dental health
Our pet’s teeth are just important as ours are, and like us, their dental health has been shown to have a direct impact on their overall wellbeing. In fact, pets with great dental health have been shown to live considerably longer than those who suffer from moderate to severe periodontal disease – the most common dental condition affecting dogs and cats. Failing to take adequate care of your pet’s teeth can cause them to suffer from painful and debilitating symptoms, tooth loss and even conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
One of the best ways that you can support your pet’s dental health is to ensure that her teeth are brushed regularly – daily if possible. Working daily brushing into her routine often isn’t as hard as you might think, and some pets even relish the brushing process as it gives them an additional opportunity to bond with their human.
To effectively brush your pet’s teeth, you will need two key tools. Firstly, you will need a toothbrush. There are plenty of species-specific varieties to choose from, but a small-headed child’s toothbrush with soft bristles will work just as well and may work out less expensive which is great if you are on a budget.
The other tool that you will need is toothpaste.
Can I use my regular toothpaste to brush my pet’s teeth?
No. You should never use human toothpaste on your pet. This is because human toothpaste contains harmful ingredients and as animals don’t spit out their toothpaste, they become food instead. Some of the harmful ingredients found in human toothpaste include:
- Fluoride. This is essential in human toothpaste, but extremely dangerous for animals – so much so that even just four brush-loads of it could prove fatal to your pet.
- Xylitol, which is a sugar substitute, is safe for humans but highly toxic to animals and if swallowed, could cause a range of digestive problems such as diarrhea or vomiting.
Human toothpastes also tend to contain higher levels of sodium than is safe for your pet to consume.
Can I use salt or bicarbonate of soda to brush my pet’s teeth?
The answer to both of these is a firm NO! Both of these cleaning agents can prove toxic to animals and should never be used when brushing your pet’s teeth.
The benefits of choosing the right pet toothpaste
There are a variety of benefits to choosing the right pet toothpaste. In addition to helping clean your animal’s teeth, it:
- Changes the pH level of your pet’s mouth, which helps make it less appealing to bacteria
- Is antibacterial and helps to eradicate the bugs that turn plaque into tartar, which is significantly harder to remove
- Helps to improve the health of your pet’s gums, which can help prevent or halt the progression of periodontal disease
- Gives your pet fresher breath
With so many different brands of pet toothpaste available, it can be difficult to find the right one for your furbaby. If you aren’t sure where to start, contact us and ask our veterinarian at Richland Animal Clinic for advice. Be prepared for the fact that your pet may not like the first flavor that you give her, and you may need to try some other varieties to find one that is most appealing for your furry friend.