Pet owners frequently visit my clinic with complaints of bad breath in their dog or cat. In addition to the foul odors, some experience symptoms such as drooling, pawing the mouth, swelling around the eyes or mouth, bleeding from the mouth, or sudden refusal to eat. At this point, there is a serious dental problem. Once your pet has periodontal disease, an expensive dental procedure under general anesthesia will be required to treat the infection, but what can you do to prevent this problem?
It may sound silly, but just like with humans, daily brushing is best. If you plan to brush your dog’s teeth, training should begin as a puppy. If you start early, most dogs can be trained to allow owners to brush their teeth once a day. Be sure to use toothpaste designed for pets, as many human toothpastes contain ingredients that are toxic to pets. Besides safety, your dog will be much more likely to accept a chicken flavor paste than a spicy mint flavor. A pet or baby toothbrush usually works best due to their small size. Be careful if you use the type of brush that slips on your finger because your finger could be bitten and if the brush slips, your pet could swallow it. I recognize that brushing is not good for everyone, and I myself do not brush my dogs teeth. However, some make the commitment and the dog benefits. Be aware that in most cases, cats do not tolerate brushing.
Pet dental wipes are another option. These wipes look a lot like a baby wipe and are used on your finger to clean your teeth. They pose a risk of being bitten, so should only be considered if your pet is calm and cooperative. The wipes work like a brush by scrubbing surface debris. Most contain ingredients to minimize bacteria and plaque buildup, but they can’t get into tight cracks like a brush, so that’s a downfall.
Dr. Kaitlen Lawton-Betchel grew up in Lemoore. Alumnus of West Hills College and Fresno Pacific University, she graduated from Midwestern University in Arizona with her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Commerce Certificate. Dr. Kait currently practices at Karing for Kreatures Veterinary Hospital, also known as K+K.
The hospital is located at 377 Hill St., Lemoore. To make an appointment, call 559-997-1121.
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