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Friday, February 10, 2012

Dental Care How-To.....And A CONTEST

In my last post I talked about why dental care is important to your pets.  Today I want to talk about what you can do to help.

As with pretty much anything in life, prevention is best.  If you wait until tartar and gingivitis are present the disease process may be harder to control.  Start your dogs and cats young, getting them used to having their teeth and gums touched while they are still puppies or kittens.  Many clients who start dental care later in their pet's life find that there is resistance to brushing or other preventive care.  When young, dogs and cats are still learning what is "normal".  Make dental care normal for them and it will be easier throughout their life.

So what can you do to help prevent dental tartar from forming, or reduce build-up between cleanings?
1.  Brushing.  This is the gold standard and the most effective method.  You can use most tooth brushes, even human ones, though ones designed for pets' mouths are shaped slightly differently and may work better.  Definitely use a pet toothpaste, as human toothpastes are not designed to be swallowed and are not as palatable to animals.  To be truly effective, brushing must be done at least five times per week.  Since that's most of the week, why not just go ahead and do it every day?  Put the brush and toothpaste somewhere you will see it daily, and make it a part of your routine.  Just don't get it mixed up with your own tooth care products!  You probably wouldn't like poultry-flavored toothpaste.

2.  Foods.  Several foods have been specifically designed to help with dental care, and many are quite effective.  Hills Science Diet, Purina, and Royal Canin all make dental-specific diets.  Though formulated to be the primary foods, Hills t/d is generally still effective when part of the diet (at least half).  Though foods are not quite as effective as brushing, they can still make a big difference.  The idea behind these foods is that they chemically bind with some of the minerals that make up calculus on the teeth, keeping them off the teeth, as well as mechanically scrape the teeth as the pet chews.

3.  Treats.  There are many treats on the market that say they help with tartar build-up, not all work well.  Greenies brand products are probably the leaders in this area, though I've seen good results with Pedigree Dentabones and several others.  The key with the treats is to treat them like brushing.  They must be given at least five times per week to be effective.

4. Sprays.  Recently I've seen several oral sprays come onto the market, and have greeted them with some skepticism.  However, some actually do work, such as the products made by HealthyMouth.  Some water additives can also be effective.

5.  Dental cleanings.  Eventually most pets will need to have their teeth professionally cleaned, even if the above steps are taken.  These cleanings need to be done under anesthesia by a veterinary professional.  The "cleaning" done by some groomers is actually just brushing the teeth.  It's not bad, but if you only do it every few months it really isn't helping any.  You should also not have teeth cleaned by someone not properly trained, as it can do more harm than good.  And if the pet is not anesthetized, most will move at some point during the procedure, potentially causing harm because of the sharp instruments, and likely resulting in a poor quality job.

I want to direct my readers to the web site of the Veterinary Oral Health Council.  This is a group of veterinary dentists (yes, they exist) who evaluate different products on the market and determine if they actually work.  On their site you can easily find a list of products that have been given their seal of approval, and I would recommend using these as a starting point, though I do think there are products not on the list that also work well. Above all, talk to your own veterinarian about what is best for your pet.

Okay, that's the info.  Now on to the contest!!!!

PetSmart.com is giving away a set of dental care products exclusively to readers of this blog!!!  The prize is a set of Arm & Hammer dental products for dogs:  Advanced Care Dental Finger Wipes, 3-Sided Toothbrush, and Gum Care Dental Foam.  One (and only one) lucky winner will receive the full set free, shipped to their address at no charge, and with no strings attached.

So how do you win?  Really simple.  Make a comment on this blog entry.  It can be something as simple as "pick me", or a real discussion, though keep things polite.  The deadline to post is 11:00pm EDT (GMT -5:00) on Sunday, February 26th, 2012.  Of the posts, one name will be chosen randomly and that person will win!  I will announce the winner on my blog and they will be contacted shortly afterwards to arrange shipping.

Good luck to all entrants! And keep your pets' mouths healthy!

21 comments:

  1. I'd love this to have as a prize for my puppy class clients. Some of them are very compliant about practicing handling and brushing in their dogs mouths.. others..not so much!

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  2. Yay, a contest! :o)

    I brush my dogs' teeth every other day. No good explanation why, so I suppose I should switch to daily! They all love it and line up for their turn. I start my foster puppies out, too, in case their future home cares to continue the good habit.

    I'm not a fan of the dental foods or chews as I don't feel either are particularly nutritious or healthy.

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  3. I actually brush my dog Blueberry's teeth every morning at the same time I brush mine. You are right though, one time I wasn't very alert and accidentally put her toothpaste on my brush! Thankfully I noticed before it reached my mouth.

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  4. I don't suppose the prize will be allowed to go to New Zealand, but thanks for the heads up on those products which look great -must go and see if I can even get them here!! Got to teach the new vet nurse class this next week and always like to keep up to date.

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  5. I'd love this for my dog. She's very nervous so she only gets the treats to clean her teet, i'm going to try and start brushing them for her now.

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  6. Great prize. My 8 year old dog has had two dental cleanings and I'd like to minimize the number she needs to have in the future by being a more dedicated brusher!

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  7. I just wanted to add the my almost 3 year old healer has almost always had awful teeth that were covered in tarter and his gums were inflamed. His breath also smelled horrible. My other dog had some tarter and some inflammation. We started giving them the nylabone chews (the ones for hard chewers because ours are hard on toys) and both they're teeth are beautiful now. No more bad breath, pearly white teeth, and no more inflammation of the gums. I rarely get so enthusiastic about teeth cleaning products but I now recommend nylabone.

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  8. My chihuahua is going in for a complete cleaning under anaesthetic at the end of the month. At a cost of almost $800, I will definately be starting to brush his teeth often to avoid these astronomical costs...

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  9. I feed my Pom t/d and have been very pleased with the results. She needed a cleaning when I got her-she was not quite 3. After I did the cleaning I started her on the t/d and she has had minimal tartar since. She is also a big chewer-rawhide and nylabones, etc. She is now close to 5/12 years old.

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  10. Pick me! Great articles! I do make it a point to brush my dog's teeth. She actually likes getting her teeth brushed so it's a good thing. When I got her at 3 months of age I knew I wanted her to be used to getting her teeth brushed so I made a point of brushing her teeth every day. Thanks! Cheryl

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  11. Pick me, my little pup could definitely use some health with her teeth.

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  12. I do brush my dogs teeth. I have one lab who LOVES getting his teeth brushed and waits patiently every morning as I brush mine knowing he is next. The other two Labs I have to go looking for..
    I have mixed up the toothpaste but I was lucky as the flavor was a minty one and not the liver or beef..
    My lab with Addison's just had his teeth cleaned by the dentist last friday and a broken tooth removed.. A healthy mouth helps to have a healthy dog!

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  13. I'm terrible about brushing my pet's teeth and could really use the motivation to be consistent about it! I have fed t/d though (although the kibble size is a bit too large for my little dog!)

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  14. Just discovered this blog, linked from another veterinary blog. Great info. I have a nearly 13 yr old healthy cocker who had horrible teeth when we adopted him 8 years ago, he had to have several teeth removed. So I've always brushed his teeth and even though he was already 5 when we got him he learned to tolerate the brushings. I usually only do it weekly though, now I know I should do it more often. Thank you for the info.

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  15. One of our vet school professors loved the idea of using a battery-operated spin brush on your pet.

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  16. I am a dental hygienist, and I love hearing how people/pets can better themselves! I think this is a great contest!

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  17. I'd love to win this, especially since my 13-year-old shepherd/husky girl had an extraction today. I've just started giving her Nylabone treats as her tartar-fighting agent, instead of what she'd been getting. I chose those because they are made in the USA (both because chicken treats from China have been recalled, and I wanted to do more to support US businesses).

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  18. I am a cat person, but I think I can use the wipes on them. I will gladly donate the other products.

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  19. I don't suppose it can go to Ireland...

    What a coincidence, though, since I'd only heard of pet dental care recently, and it was looking around today for info (after a fruitless search for retailers of dog toothpaste) that led me to this post.

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  20. Thanks for bringing canine oral care to the forefront. I have a five-year old Brussels Griffon whose teeth were a mess, tartar build up, bleeding gums. I learned from another BG owner how to keep them healthy. Every night before bed, I use a dental wipe, then brush with doggie toothpaste, then apply an oral gel. His teeth are now white and his gums are now healthy. It only takes a few minutes, but adds to his general health and prevents unnecessary anesthetics to have tartar scraping. Thanks again for this post.

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