If your pet has bad breath, don’t turn the nose. This smell could mean they have a potentially serious health risk!
Warrensville Heights, Ohio – We take our pets to the vet for a health check and when they don’t feel well. But are we neglecting an important part of their health?
“In the United States, more than 70 percent of pets have periodontal disease by the age of three,” says Dr. Mallory Kanwal, veterinary dentist and oral surgeon with VCA Great Lakes Veterinary Specialists. February is National Pet Dental Health Month.
Dr. Kanwal’s message: In general, pet parents can do a better job when it comes to the oral health of our fur babies.
Dr. Kanwal explained: “Once we notice bad breath, you know, that shitty breath, we think it’s normal, but it’s not. Bad breath can be the result of gingivitis or periodontitis.”
If left untreated, it can lead to bigger problems.
“We need to figure out how we can stop this cycle of bad breath, inflammation and gingivitis before we look at loose teeth, diseased teeth with bone loss and gum loss, and then we need to do a lot of extractions.”
Number one: Your veterinarian should check your pet’s teeth and gums on an annual basis. They can spot potential trouble.
We want to do our part to prevent problems before they happen – and that starts at home.
Dr. Kanwal says to brush your pet’s teeth every day or every other day. There are brushes made just for pets, or you can use “people” soft toothbrush. Kids toothbrushes work great too!
Do not use human toothpaste! Use a paste made just for pets.
Dr. Kanwal demonstrates what to use on Bellini, a 1-year-old golden retriever who is already a pro.
“It’s poultry-flavored toothpaste, a delicious chicken flavor, because we want toothpaste to be delicious. We want it to be a treat. We want it to be a positive experience. We don’t want them using human toothpaste because if they swallow it Fluoride can be dangerous,” she explained.
It’s good to start brushing your pet’s teeth when they are young. But it’s never too late to teach an “old dog” or cat new tricks. Take it easy. Let them comfortably lick the goodness off their toothbrush. Gradually progress to lifting their skin to expose the gums. You only need to brush the outside of your teeth, not the inside. Three swipes with a brush and pet toothpaste on each tooth should do the trick, says Dr. Kanwal.
It’s important to make brushing a pleasurable experience, not a painful one, so taking your time is key – as well as finding something that tastes really good to them.
The type of food your pet eats can also play a role! Dry food, so big that they have to be chewed, has a great enzymatic effect on the teeth. Veterinarian-approved dental treats or toys can also remove plaque.
As in humans, dental disease can affect overall health—especially the heart, kidneys, liver, and joints.
“We want every pet to have a healthy, comfortable, fully functional mouth so they can eat, play, smell good, kiss and protect the rest of their body,” Dr. Kanwal said.
In case you were wondering, yes, some breeds are prone to gum disease. Dogs have 42 teeth. The smaller the mouth that houses all those teeth, the greater the risk.smaller varieties such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, and toy poodles fall into this category.
Short-nosed breeds are also more prone to dental problems. This includes, but is not limited to, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Boxers.
Editor’s Note: The video in the player above was originally posted on the previous Ready Pet GO! Stories for January 25, 2023.