Did you know that dental disease is the most commonly diagnosed medical problem in dogs and cats and that nearly all have the condition by the time they turn 3 years old? Despite this problem’s widespread prevalence, you may avoid providing your pet with oral care because your furry pal will not tolerate having their mouth touched. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team in Fulshear, Texas, performs professional dental cleanings to remove plaque and tartar that have accumulated on your four-legged friend’s teeth. However, professional dental cleanings are most effective when you provide your furry pal with daily oral care. Learn how to initiate and maintain your pet’s successful at-home dental home care routine.

Does my pet have dental disease?

If your pet is 3 years of age or older, chances are high that they have dental disease. This condition usually develops because a pet’s dental care is subpar, but other factors may contribute. Genetics may affect your furry pal’s dental disease development and severity. Small and toy breeds and those who are flat-faced (i.e., brachycephalic) have a high risk for developing severe dental disease at a young age. 

Dental disease begins when plaque, a sticky bacteria film, accumulates on the teeth and hardens into tartar over time. The tartar can irritate the gumline, but the real problem is the bacteria, which gets beneath the gums and damages teeth, attachments, and bones. Your pet may have dental disease if they exhibit the following signs:

  • Bad breath
  • Yellow or brown tooth discoloration
  • Red, irritated, or bleeding gums
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty or refusal to chew crunchy food, chewing on one side, or dropping food
  • A general change in attitude and appetite because of pain

Daily toothbrushing for pets

Toothbrushing is the best way to prevent dental disease from developing or to slow disease progression after a professional dental cleaning. Ideally, you should start brushing your pet’s teeth when they are young and continue to do so daily throughout their life. Regardless of your pet’s age when you initiate at-home care, gradually introduce them to the process, so they consider toothbrushing as a positive experience.

Ensure you have all your pet’s necessary oral care supplies. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch offers pet-friendly toothbrushes and toothpastes. Pet toothpaste has appealing flavors, such as poultry, and is safe for your pet to swallow. A toothbrush that slides over your fingertip is helpful for pets with small mouths, such as cats and small dogs, but you can also use a baby’s or child’s soft-bristled toothbrush. To get started, try this fear-free toothbrushing method

Choosing at-home dental care products for your pet

Some pets will not tolerate toothbrushing, especially if they are older. No matter whether your furry pal is amenable to toothbrushing, all pets’ oral health can benefit from the various dental health products available. Such products either remove plaque or reduce bacteria to improve pets’ gum condition and overall oral health. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team can recommend oral care products that will be most effective for your pet and your lifestyle, such as prescription diets, chews, water additives, wipes, gels, and sprays. We also recommend that you visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) website for a list of approved products.

Getting started with at-home dental care for your pet

Before you start your pet’s at-home oral care plan, our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team should provide your furry pal with a complete dental and wellness examination. We will examine your pet’s mouth to look for advanced dental disease, which requires treatment before an at-home oral care program can be effective. Attempting to brush your pet’s teeth if they have untreated, painful dental disease will only cause them additional discomfort and create a negative association with oral care.

Maintaining an at-home dental care routine for your pet

An at-home dental care routine is only effective when you consistently stick to the plan. One way to do this is to brush your furry pal’s teeth right after you brush your own teeth at bedtime. If your four-legged friend won’t tolerate toothbrushing, give them a VOHC-approved dental chew each night. 

Dental health is an often overlooked but crucial component of your pet’s comprehensive preventive health care program. By providing your furry pal with at-home dental care, you help maintain the oral hygiene their professional veterinary dental treatment initiated. To schedule your pet’s dental consultation and examination and learn about effective oral health care products for your four-legged friend, contact our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team.