Maintaining a healthy and clean mouth in our pets is a critical component of any comprehensive health care program for our dogs and cats. Periodontal disease affects almost 80% of middle age and older pets, and poor oral health has been linked with many chronic diseases of the heart, liver and kidneys. It is therefore important that animal guardians become actively involved in pet preventative dental health.
There are several available options to pet owners, which will vary depending on the needs of the pet and ability of the animal guardian. Probably the best way of preventing gum and tooth disease is to actively brush the pet’s teeth at least 3 to 4 times weekly. There are some excellent products, including enzymatic toothpaste like C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste, which can break down much of the tartar and debris on the teeth. There are easy-to-use finger toothbrushes, which make brushing much easier than with traditional toothbrushes.
If this is not possible for animal guardians, then using breath fresheners and/or rinses/additives to the water can at least provide some protection against progressive dental disease. Products such as Be Fresh Dental Care Solution, and C.E.T. AquaDent contain ingredients like chlorhexidine which has been a longstanding effective component of antibacterial rinses used in people. The Be Fresh Dental Solution also has a natural compound, stabilized chlorine dioxide, which literally breaks down the bonds of the outer lining of bacteria, as well as chemicals involved with so much of the mouth odor seen in pets.
If rinses or brushing are not possible, some pets will benefit from the addition of certain chews/treats such as Greenies or C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews, which can help wash the teeth clean of plaque and tartar. Holistic oriented animal guardians will sometimes offer raw meaty bones to their dogs or cats, which also naturally washes off plaque and tartar, while helping to strengthen the teeth as well. Holistic products include VetzLife, and Leba III, which can also be helpful in preventative dental health.
If persistent unpleasant mouth odor is noted, muzzle swelling and sensitivity, excessive drooling and/or difficulty eating, then a pet is likely in need of an ultrasonic dental scaling done under anesthesia to best clean the teeth and areas below the gum line. In recent years many veterinarians are offering anesthesia-free dentistries; however, studies have shown that such procedures are not only not effective in cleaning teeth adequately, but may also be potentially harmful to the pet.