Q: My veterinarian says that I should brush my dog’s teeth every day? Do I really need to? J.C., Knoxville
A: Dental care is just as important to your pet’s overall health as it is your own. Brushing your dog’s teeth every day is the preferred method of homecare to keep her teeth and gums healthy.
Plaque can form and adhere to the tooth surface in just 24-to-48 hours, so removing it by daily brushing is ideal.
There are several varieties of pet toothbrushes available (for dogs and cats), and some owners find a child’s toothbrush just as easy to use.
Remember to use toothpaste made for pets, as it will be fluoride-free and safe for them to swallow.
There will always be some pets that resist brushing, and for those pets, oral rinses or dental treats are recommended to help fight plaque buildup.
There is also a food called T/D that aids in the removal of plaque from the surface of the tooth.
Some dog owners feed T/D as their pets’ sole diet, and others use it as a treat or reward. Both dogs and cats should have regular oral exams and have their teeth scaled and polished when recommended by your veterinarian.
If a pet’s teeth are not properly cared for, she will develop periodontal disease, or infection around the teeth in the gums. This can lead to pain, bad breath and even tooth loss.
Chronic oral infections can lead to serious secondary infections in the kidneys, liver and heart.
Brushing your dog’s teeth at home is not difficult or time consuming. Sometimes the difficulty lies in making it part of your daily routine.
I have many clients who have started to brush their dog’s teeth at night when the day is winding down. It should take a minute or less every day, and your dog will greatly benefit from the time you have spent.
If you have questions about your pet, e-mail Dr. Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org