(Photo credit: Upper Canada Animal Hospital)
Note: This article was originally scheduled for February but due to my leave, it's being posted now. Good pet dental health is a year round matter, of course. (Disclosure: I received product samples at no cost and my review follows this article)
Guest author: Heather Loenser, DVM, Senior Clinician (Crown Veterinary Specialists)
Your pet’s teeth aren’t sexy
I get it. They aren’t. Caring for teeth is often an afterthought for many of us. Brushing my own teeth after a rushed breakfast is hard to do as I’m herding kids into the car, tracking down a missing shoe and my stethoscope before heading to the hospital.
However, with both shoes on and my stethoscope around my neck, I am going to climb up on a soap box for a moment. Caring for your pet’s teeth is really important to their health and quality of life. Veterinarians think it’s so important that we’ve dedicated the entire month of February to National Pet Dental Health Month to educate pet owners. Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of owners admit they don’t do any at-home dental care with their pets. Without regular care, our pets’ gums and teeth can become infected and painful, which causes unnecessary suffering. Almost 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats over the age of three years old have dental disease. The bacteria in a neglected mouth can grow to such high numbers that your pet’s heart and kidneys can be affected, which can shorten their lives. Not to mention, the bad breath that occurs will change how you and your family interact with your previously cherished dog or cat. Over one-third of pet owners admit that they avoid cuddling and sharing a bed with their pet because of smelly breath. As pets age, they often require more close contact and care, not less.
I’m stepping off my soap box now because I know life is busy and we’re all trying to do our best. So since you probably barely have enough time to finish reading this, let me cut to the chase. Busy pet parents of America, this is what you need to do to keep your pet’s mouth healthy:
1) Call your vet, schedule and GO to an appointment for your pet’s yearly exam. You’d be amazed at what else we can find by examining your pets closely and taking the time to learn about their lives at home.
2) Listen to your vet’s recommendations and find out if he or she thinks your pet needs a dental cleaning under anesthesia or if you just need to focus on at-home care.
3) If your pet needs a dental cleaning, get comfortable with all aspects of the procedure by asking any questions you have about anesthesia safety and cost. The American Animal Hospital Association has some great guidelines to help prepare you.
4) After the dental cleaning to keep your pet’s mouth fresh and clean for as long as possible, commit to daily at-home care. Although thought of as time-consuming, tooth brushing can be effective, so try different kinds of toothbrushes and tasty pet-friendly toothpaste until you find something that works for you both. I recently found this amazing new product, Tooth to Tail Antioxidant Gel, that you just quickly squeeze into your pet’s mouth once a day and it really works to keep bad breath under control. Being a bit of a health nut myself, I love that the antioxidants and essential oils in it are plant-based, natural and safe.
So while your pet’s teeth aren’t sexy, chances are that carving out time in your hectic day to care for them, will lead to more cuddling and will do you both a ton of good.
(Photo credit: Smartpak)
The wonderful peeps at Tooth to Tail sent me their Antioxidant Oral Gel, which was more than welcomed, considering Oscar's breath is downright nasty. Bordering on illegal. I don't know what Oscar gets into at the dog park but he often eats mystery items. And yes - he eats cat poop. He's going to be so embarassed I told you so.
The first thing I liked about it is that you don't have to stick your fingers in your dogs or cats mouth. I don't know about your pets but Oscar puts up a real fuss when I attempt to see what's going on in that crazy mouth of his.
The second thing I really liked about it is that it works. I guess that should be number one but if it weren't for the lick option, I would probably never see a result. Oscar will lick anything. (They do suggest using peanut butter for dogs and fish oil for cats if they don't like the taste)
Important to know is that it's a treatment...not a treat. And it's a breath freshener only...not a teeth cleaner. It's also very simple. Apply once a day, every day before eating, morning is best. It comes with an applicator (a stick) that you apply the gel onto. There are very clear instructions on how much to dispense, based on the size of your dog's tongue. It's a no-brainer.
Unfortunately I don't have a smellogram app on my blog so you'll have to take my word for it that Oscar's breath smells a LOT better than it did. I took a few close-ups and you can see in his eyes, that he's happy the laaaaadies are going to find his breath much, much more acceptable.
It's a easy, safe and effective solution to keep your pet's breath fresh. Plain and simple.
Want to win a Tooth to Tail Antioxidant Oral Gel for your pet? Enter to win the giveaway. There will be three lucky winners.