Responsible pet owners know that grooming is an important part of pet health. Far more than just a bath and a trim, proper grooming can make your dog or cat feel and behave better. Sorsha, for example, has a big bushy double coat that requires attention twice a year to remove tangles and prepare her for seasonal weather.
One important aspect of pet health that often goes overlooked, however, is your animal’s oral and dental health. Since February is National Pet Dental Health Month, take a moment to brush up (yep) on these steps to properly care for your critter’s mouth and teeth.
Know the Signs of Something Serious
The majority of mouth-related problems are something the average pet owner can handle on their own, but there are several abnormalities and conditions that can be painful or deadly to dogs. Arm yourself with a knowledge of the symptoms of such illnesses so you can seek a veterinarian’s assistance if necessary.
For example, “dog breath” is an insult because the average hound’s mouth isn’t exactly like potpourri. However, if the dog’s breath is particularly malodorous, or appears with a change in behavior or excessive drinking and urinating, take Fido to the vet pronto. Similarly, excessive drooling, inflamed or discolored gums, and loose teeth are all signs that something is significantly wrong. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.
A Different Kind of Brushing
Dogs can suffer from many of the same kinds of teeth problems as humans. Bacteria and plaque can gather to form tartar, gingivitis, and other problems. Luckily, regular teeth-brushing can protect your dog’s mouth.
First, be sure to use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste (human toothpaste is often toxic to dogs). Most of them are meat-flavored (but that doesn’t mean you should use them on yourself). A mixture of baking soda and water is also effective.
You may have to warm your pooch up to the idea of sticking that brush in their mouth, so make sure they are calm, and let them get used to the implement by smelling it before you use it on them. This might take a few days, depending on how skittish they are to the idea. Once they are ready, simply (and gently) lift your dog’s lip and brush their teeth softly, working from front to back. You may have to do a few teeth at a time, but the process is quick and easy once you both get used to it.
In addition to regular brushing, there are a variety of wipes, dental treats, and chews that can help your dog’s mouth health. The action of chewing, for example, removes plaque from the dog’s teeth. Once a year it’s also a good idea to get your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned.
Canine Tooth Fairy
You love your pet, and we know you’d do anything for them. It may be out of the ordinary, but taking a few extra minutes out of your day to check their teeth is an easy way to make sure they are happy and healthy.