Clean Those Teeth!

by Jim Harrington

Ever gotten close to your favorite four-legged friend and gotten a whiff of something nasty?!  Similar to how our mouths function, pet bad breath typically stems from anaerobic bacteria that thrives in areas such as gums and in between teeth.  Once that bacteria transforms into plaque and accumulates, that wonderful stank becomes more noticeable.

A combination of patience and a willing pet can enable teeth to get brushed.  Generally, dogs are a bit easier to do teeth cleaning than cats.  Most dogs feel more of a need to please and bond.  A cat’s mouth is typically smaller and their teeth are also smaller and sharper – plus they choose when they feel like engaging with their human.

Brushing is an unnatural act for your pet, especially since they also cannot rinse, spit or floss on their own.  If your pets (or you) get too stressed by trying to utilize some of the traditional oral hygiene approaches, it may be best to consider alternative products.  Take a ride to your favorite pet store and you’ll see the ever-expanding teeth cleaning options that are available.  Products range from special chew toys and ropes to hard treats and cookies.  If none of those work, you can also ask your veterinarian about special foods and diets that support good oral health.

Make sure you do NOT use human toothpaste though…  the foaming action and an inability to spit leaves only one option for our furry friends – they swallow it.  Once that happens, plan on an upset tummy – or worse.  If your pet cooperates with the brushing concept, be sure to purchase a foamless flavored gel specially designed for animals.  These gels are safe for pets to swallow.  Brushing once a day should be sufficient to maintain good oral health for your dog or cat.

Lastly, be aware that oral care products for animals are not specifically regulated by any federal agency.  The FDA does provide some general oversight of products that make claims of cleaner teeth, fresher breath, etc, but it doesn’t do specific testing.