Most of us humans, if we’re honest, aren’t absolutely crazy about going to the dentist for our six-month check-up. But we do it anyway because we know it’s necessary and that it will hopefully help us avoid worse things further down the track. Things involving needles and (gulp!) drills.
When it comes to our pets, guess what? It’s the same. A bit of pre-emptive care for our cats and dogs can save them from developing nasty dental complications.
The truth is, animals’ teeth can take a beating. Besides eating, there’s all that chewing of bones, catching frisbees, and fetching sticks to cope with, and they don’t have the ability to make a call for help when they’re experiencing discomfort from a tooth or gum problem.
So, next time you’re making your own dental appointment, how about making one for your four-legged companions with your vet. Ask the vet to give them a dental examination at the same time as their regular health check-up, to make sure that all is A-OK with the choppers.
You can also stay ahead of future illnesses by giving pets’ teeth a weekly cleaning yourself. Pet toothbrushes, similar to the human variety but with smaller heads and softer bristles, are available at pet-supply stores. Alternatively, you can use a style of brush that fits over your finger, like a fingerstall, allowing you to gently massage your pet’s gums while you clean.
You can get animals to submit to regular teeth-cleaning sessions by gradually getting them used to the idea of having your bare fingers in their mouth, massaging their lips and gums. Then you can introduce the brush and, eventually, the toothpaste.
That’s right, toothpaste. Not your added-fluoride, ultra-whitening-for-that-Hollywood-smile human variety (which tends to upset their digestion), but specialist pet toothpaste in a variety of flavors, also available from pet stores. The chicken sounds good. Not too sure about the peanut butter, though. Or you can simply make up a paste with baking soda. Help the process with rawhide chew toys that scrape away tartar and massage their gums as they chew.
Watch their diet.
Human food doesn’t do canine or feline teeth any good, so disregard the pleading faces and avoid giving pets table scraps or sugary treats. There are dog and cat foods specifically formulated to improve their dental health, so ask your vet to recommend one. You’ll appreciate it every time your pet gives you a kiss goodnight.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.