6 Ways to Check Your Dog or Cat’s Dental Health!
3 February, 2016

February is officially designated as dental health month for our pets. We all take our pets’ to the vet to check their overall condition, but when is the last time you checked your dog or cat’s teeth? Proper dental care can help avoid other health risks for our beloved cats and dogs. And, as always, preventive care is the best care of all.

Below are six ways to check and improve your pet’s dental health.

1. Take a whiff of your dog or cat’s breath

As appealing as that sounds, just get a quick sniff of your dog or cat’s breath (preferably not right after eating something stinky!). Your pet’s breath shouldn’t be offensive or have an abnormally strong odor (doesn’t have to smell like roses either). If it does reek, your dog or cat could have a digestive problem or a gum condition such as gingivitis and should be taken to your vet for a thorough exam.

2. Look out for tooth decay (discoloring) in your dog or cat

Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause a buildup your dog or cat’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. If your dog or cat’s teeth are discolored, it’s time to start a brushing program with a toothpaste to ward off decay.

3. Examine your dog or cat’s gums (carefully)

If you want to look at your dog or cat’s gums, make sure he or she is facing you and then gently push back his or her lips and take a look. Your pets’ gums should be firm and pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. Their teeth should be clean and free of any brownish tartar, and none should be loose or broken obviously (they should look just like human gums)!

4. Peruse your dog or cat’s mouth for anything unusual

If you see any of the following, there could be a bigger dental issue in your cat or dog’s mouth and you should take your pet to the vet: dark red line along the gums, loose teeth, pus or extreme salivation, difficulty chewing food, excessive drooling and/or excessive pawing at the mouth area

5. Learn how to brush your cat’s or dog’s teeth (if you don’t do it already).

While most pets don’t love it, it’s important to brush your dog or cat’s teeth. You’ll need a small toothbrush and a type of toothpaste formulated for dogs or cats. You can also use salt and water. It really isn’t that different from brushing your own teeth and can be done quickly once you get the hang of it.

6. Buy chew toys for your dog or cat to strengthen their teeth.

Chew toys are great for your cats and especially dogs for so many reasons. It keeps your pets’ occupied and can also make their teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help floss your pet’s teeth, massage their gums and scrape away soft tartar.

Make sure to take the time to check your dog or cat’s mouth regularly for any issues that might occur and try to implement brushing their teeth in your routine. If you see anything out of the ordinary, make sure to schedule and appoint with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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