Although most of us are aware of the various responsibilities associated with owning a pet and we strive to provide only the best for our furry friends; we generally tend to place high quality food, fresh water, regular exercise and grooming at the top of our list. However, dental care seems to be the one thing which can easily be overseen and yet, it is one of the most important aspects in their overall level of health.

Somehow we mistakenly assume that by providing high quality food and fresh water, that their teeth should be healthy too. But, this is not necessarily the case. Unfortunately, if oral health is not maintained, our pets are prone to the following:

• Gingivitis – This is inflammation of the gingiva.

• Periodontal Disease – This disease can lead to infection and loss of teeth. It starts as gingivitis and if left untreated, it       progresses to periodontitis. It generally affects dogs over the age of four.

• Periodontitis – A process which destroys the supportive structures of the teeth, the gingiva, periodontal ligament, periodontium, cementum, and the alveolar bone (the bone which contains the tooth sockets).

Another important fact to remember is that if there is a dental problem present and it is not attended to, it can result in bacteria entering the bloodstream. This can be fatal to your pet’s health, as this can affect his or her heart, the kidneys or the liver.

Therefore, although a balanced diet is very important and nutrition plays an integral part in their general and oral health, we need to acknowledge that we have to take additional steps, to ensure that their teeth and gums remain clean and healthy.

There are various methods which pet owners can incorporate in their daily care, to help keep your pup’s dental health firmly in check.

Regular Brushing
This is an effective method to maintain oral health. But, in order to obtain results with regular brushing, it is important that your pup is made familiar with brushing from a young age. If possible, you should start brushing your pup’s teeth whilst he or she is between eight and twelve weeks old. However, it is very important to discontinue brushing, whilst your pup is losing their baby teeth and you may resume brushing once they have all their permanent teeth.

Brushing may prove to be a little more challenging with older dogs, as your pooch will not easily soften up to the idea of you prying around in his or her mouth. It is therefore important that you make this a fun event for him or her. It is also important to establish a routine, thus you should ensure that you do this at the same time every day. The best time would be when your pet is calm and relaxed or just before supper time. This way supper will serve as the “reward” or the “treat” after brushing.

Tips on Brushing
• You will need a toothpaste – not human toothpaste, but a dental paste for pets, which you can obtain from your local Veterinarian.

• You will need a finger brush, which you may also obtain from your local Veterinarian, or you may use a soft human toothbrush.

• It is best to brush gently in a circular motion, from the gum to the tip of the tooth. Remember to be gentle with the gums.

• If your pet allows you to only brush one side of their mouth today, do not despair, just ensure to brush the other side the following day.

• Brush your pet’s teeth daily, but if this is not possible, try to do this at least three to four times per week.

• Always reward your pet after brushing – this way it will become a “rewarding habit”.

In conclusion, brushing is both an effective and cost effective method of maintaining your pup’s oral health. However, should you decide not to brush your pup’s teeth or your pup purely refuses to allow you anywhere near his or her mouth with a toothbrush, then you should consider more regular dental check-ups and more regular professional cleaning may be required.

Chewy Toys
Chewy toys can also assist you in keeping your pup’s teeth clean, so you may consider investing in some rubber chewy toys. However, you need to be cautious of chewy toys which have been manufactured from raw hide, as these can be very harmful to your pets. These toys are generally bleached, colored and glued and they also contain preservatives.

When your pup chews on these rubber chewy toys, it is in actual fact an abrasive action, which helps to remove the thin layer of protein build-up that occurs on the teeth. This protein build-up is generally caused by food. Some chewy toys are also treated, in order to help reduce bacteria. You can ask your local Veterinarian to recommend a healthy variety of chewy toys.

Healthy Diet
You may consult your local Veterinarian for advice on the best kibble and invest in a product which helps to prevent plaque build-up. However, you also get to enjoy the added benefit of supplementing your pup’s kibble with our fresh organic food. This will ensure that you provide your pup with a healthy and balanced diet and this will greatly contribute to maintaining your pup’s oral health.

Regular Dental Check-ups
In order to maintain your pup’s oral health at an optimum high, it is important to take him or her to your local Veterinarian for regular dental check-ups. During the visit the Veterinarian will examine your pup’s mouth and teeth, to ensure that there are no signs of plaque, gingivitis, missing or broken teeth and that there are no signs of periodontal disease.

If there are any signs of a problem, your Veterinarian may suggest a second visit, during which the Veterinarian will administer an anesthetic, to allow them to examine the mouth and teeth more thoroughly. During this process, they also clean and polish your pup’s teeth and may also apply fluoride. After this procedure, your pup will be required to stay overnight for observation, as they need to ensure that the anesthetic has had no adverse effects on your pup.

In order to ensure that your pup has a healthy set of teeth, it is important to schedule a dental check-up at least once a year.

In addition to the methods mentioned above, there are also a variety of special treats, sprays and gels, which can assist in maintaining your pup’s oral health. But, it is important to choose the method or product, which best suits you and your furry friend.

Love, The PetsWell Team

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