Written by Nicole Gunkel, RVT

At Animal Care Clinic, dental disease & obesity are the top two health concerns that we see – and both can be life threatening!  About 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have some degree of gingival (gum) disease by the age of three!  Unhappy gums are caused by a build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth, where it causes infection and mechanical irritation.   Most dogs and cats need their first dental cleaning by age three and about once per year afterwards.  After teeth are cleaned, plaque begins to develop within a few hours.  This plaque will calcify in just 48 hours!  Luckily there are things you can do at home to prolong the time needed before your pet ™s first dental cleaning and extend the time in between anesthetic cleanings!

1)   Brushing teeth is the best thing to do!  80% of Americans brush their teeth twice daily, while most of our pets don ™t get them brushed at all.  Everyone knows how much tartar builds up on his or her teeth in between brushings and it is the same for Fluffy.  Please see the following blog article for tips specifically on brushing teeth – it is easier than you think!
2)   Dental chews can be very helpful.  It is important to use the proper size chew for each pet – small treats can be swallowed by big dogs and get stuck in the intestines!  Treats that are too large will be hard for a small dog to chew.  Cats who will chew on dental treats can benefit greatly also – just be sure they are treats designed for cats!  We offer CET chews at Animal Care Clinic.  These are a rawhide based chew and some even add chlorhexidine, which is an anti-bacterial ingredient.  Most dogs love them!  Come by for a free sample.
3)   There are many chew toys that will also help keep teeth cleaner and gums healthier.  If your dog is a chewer try one of the rubber type toys that have ridges and different textures of surfaces that will rub against teeth and gums.  You can even squirt some pet toothpaste onto the toy.  Nylabones can be good for strong chewers.  Rope toys will also provide mechanical action against teeth and can even act like floss.
4) Oravet is a gel that is applied immediately after the teeth are cleaned.  The initial application must be applied to very dry teeth (done under anesthesia) to adhere properly.  You will then apply the gel to the outsides of the teeth once per week at home.  This product will help prevent the build-up of tartar by acting as a barrier.

Even if you use these products at home, your pet will need regular dental cleanings, just as we still have our dental hygienist clean our teeth every 6 months.  If you have any questions about any of these products or services, call or come by Animal Care Clinic.  We would be happy to help you!  Any of our veterinary nursing staff can assess your pet ™s dental health at any time, so swing on by!