How to Brush Pet’s Teeth & Internet Root Canals

PupChewStick-Evans-Flickr

Give ’em something GOOD to chew–a stick can cause all kinds of health problems if it splinters! Image Copr. EvansPhotoStudio.com/Flickr

How can you brush your pet’s teeth…without pulling back bloody stubs of fingers. *s* This is something veterinarians tell us to do daily for the best effect on our pets’ dental health. And of course, February is National Pet Dental Health Month (yes, I’m squeaking in with only two days to spare). Do you brush your dog and cat’s teeth?

QUICK UPDATE

…and then we’ll get on with the dental post. This post is late and here’s why.

Sometime between 10 pm Sunday night and 6 am Monday morning, my internet connection to this blog and several others (including my Puppies.About.com and personal website) was blocked. At first I thought my server had somehow blocked my IP address, or my computers were infected again, or hijacked or fill-in-the-blank. Contacting the server and the malware peeps who helped last time got me nowhere–turns out it wasn’t their fault but they couldn’t advise me, either.

After much tooth-gnashing angst (see that on-topic toothy reference there? huh, huh? *s*), I contacted my friend Jay Donovan from TechSurgeons.com and he immediately began an emergency transfer of both my shojai.com and amyshojai.com sites to his hosting service. That’s when we discovered it didn’t fix the problem. So Tuesday morning, Jay aka The White Night waved his magic tech wand and spent about an hour poking around long-distance inside my laptop sort of like a dentist probing for problems (ouch!) and he found the cavity. My verizon DSL router for some reason had blocked my own IP address from accessing these websites. Yikes! Weird-icity, huh? Meanwhile, Jay set up a techy work-around, sort of an Internet root canal, to bypass the verizon router until a new one arrives–and that’s why I’m at last able to post again. If you ever need website dental drilling, Jay’s your guy!

So thank you, oh wondrous White Knight, for pulling the fangs on that particular toothache.

BACK TO DENTAL ISSUES

By age four, most cats and dogs have some degree of dental disease. Yikes! And the top symptom is yucky breath. Do you want that stinky kiss slurped across your face? Besides the halitosis, keeping pets’ mouths healthy impacts the rest of their health, too.

Honestly, it is much easier to brush your puppy’s teeth than to attempt this with adult dogs, or with cats of any age. Oh, it is do-able. And I have a step-by-step how to brush puppy teeth here.

The key to brushing a pet’s teeth is to make it pleasant with good tasting schtuff, introduce the concept slowly, and make it a part of the normal routine. Make it a benefit for the dog or cat to put up with the process.

One trick is to hold the pup’s mouth slightly open by placing a chew-toy in his jaws first and then gently closing his mouth around the toy. That gives you the ability to brush the OUTSIDE of his toothies with a doggy dental brush, gauze sponge, finger brush or other pet product help. Don’t worry about the inside surfaces, the pet’s tongue takes care of that. Be sure to use dog (or cat) tooth paste, too. Pets don’t spit, and the flavor and foam is off-putting while the fluoride could prove dangerous in large quantities. NOTE: Use the pet tooth paste (chicken or beef or malt flavor, yum!) as a treat and even if you don’t brush, the enzymatic action benefits the teeth.

So…do I brush my pets’ teeth? Guilty confession here–nope. I did brush my first dog’s teeth and even scaled them at home (not recommended!). He also was a blood donor at the clinic where I worked, and in exchange got regular pro-veterinary dentals for free. I’m fortunate that Seren-Kitty has great “tooth genes” (yep, the tendency is heritable), so even at 17 has very good teeth with almost no calculus. She’s had one pro-dentistry for cleaning ten years ago.

Karma-Kitten is still young enough to have sparkly-white teeth. Putting anything in his mouth at this point is invitation for the kitten to bite-play.

Magic at age 7 has not yet had a professional cleaning, and he does have a tendency for calculus buildup. But so far, the veterinarian has said there’s no need for a cleaning because we’re keeping them clean other ways. How, you ask?

  1. Both Seren and Magic eat mostly dry food. Granted, that helps at most to reduce food accumulation by about 10 percent, but that’s a start.
  2. All three fur-kids get some human food. Magic loves veggies and that has some detergent action when he chews. They also get some lean meat, especially the cats, so they have to gnaw/chew.
  3. I use the pet tooth paste as a treat. I also offer “dental treats” which do double duty as rewards for good behavior and training, and also to reduce dental problems. My crew loves the Greenies products, which have the VOHC seal of approval–that’s Veterinary Oral Health Council. Look for this on any product that claims to help your pet’s dental health, to ensure the claims have been proven by independent tests. There also are “dental foods” that have the VOHC approval. Such products may have ingredients or formulations that “scrub” teeth, help prevent or reduce plaque formation, and/or its attachment to the teeth.
  4. Chew ops are important especially for dogs’ oral health. Right now, all the bitey-kitten-antics also help Karma keep his teeth clean, since he chomps down on stuffed toys during play (and even Magic’s “dental rope” toy. Magic has a number of chew options, and with supervision, he also gets raw knuckle bones a couple of times a year. That helps enormously to clean off any calculus. Be very careful of some hard chew objects like chew hooves and hard plastic since they can break teeth. You also can find “sterilized” prepared doggy bone chews that may be helpful. Moderation and supervision is key.

So what are some of your techniques for keeping your pets’ teeth healthy? or for solving tooth-gnashing angst-icty with the Internet? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 


Comments

How to Brush Pet’s Teeth & Internet Root Canals — 4 Comments

    • Cats should have their teeth cleaned just as regularly as dogs. Kitties are prone to an insidious kind of cavity that starts at the gumline (so it’s hidden) and eats away the inside of the tooth. So your vet should always check the teeth and will recommend a dental when necessary. Cats have nearly the same incidence of periodontal disease as dogs do.

    • Aha…well my cats don’t care for veggies. I instead give them a firm chunk-o-meat (a bit of lean steak, for instance) that’s big enough they MUST gnaw to eat. Some cats relish green beans, or may even enjoy chewing a slightly softened small size doggy rawhide chew. Soften with warm water or chicken broth and zap in the microwave for 10 seconds or so. The veggies work best with dogs.

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