Oral disease is the most common disease in cats and dogs today. About 80% of our pets are affected in some way. There are many different types of oral healthcare products available today that were not available in the past. With regular oral health care, you can add an average of 2-5 years to your pet’s life.
Every day that you neglect your pet’s teeth, plaque and tartar worsen. The tartar starts out as plaque, which is a filmy bacteria-filled substance that covers their teeth. Within 24-48 hours it hardens into tartar. Once the tartar stage is reached, the tartar becomes calcified to the teeth so that brushing will not be successful in removing the tartar. When the teeth get to this stage, the only way to remove the tartar is by putting a pet under anesthesia in order to clean and polish the teeth.
The reason why it is so important to prevent tartar buildup is because tartar is composed largely of bacteria. If the bacteria enter the blood stream, it will travel to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys where it can cause infections. The showering of these organs with bacteria will not only cause organ damage but exacerbate any pre-existing organ disease.
There are many other reasons for wanting to provide good oral hygiene for your pet. The first benefit of good oral hygiene is that good dental health can add an average of 1.8 years to your pet’s life. As explained above, we are very concerned with preventing bacteria from entering the body and causing unwanted infection. Oral hygiene also has the benefit of helping to provide good breath.
Dogs and cats naturally do not have bad breath(halitosis). Bad breath is a result of bacterial buildup on the teeth. Regular oral care will go a long way towards preventing bacterial formation that leads to bad breath. Additionally, maintaining a regular oral hygiene schedule allows you to spend some quality time with your pet and gives you the opportunity to get your children involved in your pet’s health. It doesn’t take long to benefit your pet’s teeth and they love the attention!!
We are proud to offer CET products at our hospital. CET is a company dedicated to making dental products for veterinary use and has many products available to help combat oral disease.
CET has a saying: It’s good to give the chews, it’s better to use the rinse, but it’s best to brush the pet’s teeth.
HEXtra chews are rawhide strips that are coated with chlorhexidine, which is an antibacterial agent that works to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. HEXtra chews are only one layer thick so that when your dog chews on them they become soft enough for the pet to swallow without risk of choking. There are also HEXtra chews available for cats. Chlorhexidine also coats the outside of these treats. Each treat provides about 24 hours worth of protection.
CET Oral Hygiene Rinse is another alternative or addition to brushing. As with the HEXtra chews, OralHygiene Rinse contains chlorhexidine. Only a small amount of rinse is needed to coat the teeth and prevent bacterial buildup. Each application of Oral Hygiene Rinse provides about 24 hours worth of protection.
Brushing is the most effective at-home preventative method for treating plaque and tartar buildup. Poultry, vanilla-mint and malt flavor toothpastes are available in our hospital’s Pet Shop. If you do not buy toothpaste here, just make sure that the toothpaste you purchase is for pets. Pets require toothpaste that can be swallowed. Brushing should be done as often as possible — at least 2-3 times per week. Only a small amount of rinse is needed to coat the teeth and prevent bacterial buildup. Each application of Oral Hygiene Rinse provides about 24 hours worth of protection.
As mentioned before, within 24-48 hours plaque can turn into tartar. Therefore, it is suggested that some form of dental care should be done every day. For example, brush one day and then use the oral rinse or HEXtra chews on the other days.
As you can see, it is very important to provide your pet with good dental health. Don’t get discouraged about doing home dental care. Anything you can do for your pet is better than nothing. Spending a few minutes per day brushing your pet’s teeth or a few seconds in applying the rinse or giving a treat can add years to your pet’s life!