No matter how much you love your dog or cat, their breath can be rather off-putting at times. If your pet has bad breath, this may mean that more than just a good brushing is required. Bad breath is also a sign that your pet may have gum disease. This can affect more than you may realize. Other than the possibility that they can lose their teeth, having gum disease can even cause their organs to become damaged. According to Vetstreet, a majority of adult pets are suffering from some degree of periodontal disease. In order to keep your pet optimally healthy, there are several steps you need to take in regards to their teeth.

Take Them to the Vet

Proper dental care for your dog or cat begins by taking them to the vet. This needs to be done so that they can be regularly evaluated to see if there is a buildup of tartar or if there is disease present in the mouth. This very well may be the case as about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 are suffering from an oral disease that needs to be treated. In order to stop the infection, one or more teeth may need to be pulled. If the veterinarian sees that there may be dental disease present, he will likely recommended a thorough dental cleaning. In order for the vet to do this, they will need to give your pet a general anesthesia. Whether there is disease present or not, it is recommended that your pet gets one dental cleaning a year, starting at the age of 3.

Brush Their Teeth

At-home care is essential in preventing periodontal disease in your pets. The best thing that you can do for your pet’s teeth is to brush them, every day. Just as in humans, the bacteria that cause dental disease only take 24 to 36 hours to develop. Although it may seem daunting to brush your pet’s teeth every day, you can help them get used to it.

To start, you will need a soft-bristled toothbrush or a finger brush. Only use toothpaste that is designed for a dog or a cat, as human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed. Put a small dab of toothpaste on your finger and let your pet sniff and lick it. Then, work the toothbrush in a circular motion, not forgetting the teeth in the back. Try to go slowly, spending about 30 seconds on each side of the mouth. If your pet doesn’t let you brush for long, not to worry. They just need a bit of time to get used to having their mouth touched.

Select Helpful Foods

There are commercial diets available that have been proven to improve the health of your pet’s mouth, in comparison to traditional dry food diets. Through the help of a specialized kibble, the teeth are cleaned as they chew. Simply ask your veterinarian if this type of food is right for your pet. When it comes to treats, certain ones can be helpful as well. Look for treats that carry the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal. Products that carry this seal have been proven to control tartar buildup in dogs and cats. With that being said, there are certain things that can harm your dog’s teeth. For example, cow hooves, pig’s ears and real bones can cause damage to your dog’s teeth. You may be surprised to learn that tennis balls can cause a mechanical wearing of the tooth’s surface.