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Like us, your cat or dog only get one set of adult teeth, and they need looking after as much as possible to allow them to chomp down on their favourite treats and tasty kibble for the rest of their lives.
Without a little care and attention, your pet’s oral hygiene can suffer from the same problems that affect human teeth: tartar and plaque build ups leading to gum disease, cavities and potential tooth loss, making mastication (chewing) more difficult and painful, perhaps even stopping them from eating certain foods like dry kibble.
It could be that your dog loves to play fetch or tug-of-war, and your cat loves to sink their teeth into a favourite dangling toy filled with catnip, but without their teeth, these activities lose their appeal pretty quickly, which would be a sad day for any pet.
So here’s how to give your beloved pet the dental care they need to keep their teeth clean and healthy.
Dental Care Diets
One of the biggest contributing factors to tooth decay is diet. Allowing your cat or dog to chow-down on sugary human treats or foods with added sugar can not only overload their body with too much sugar (potentially leading to diabetes), but it can cause cavities in their teeth and lead to tooth loss.
Because of this, you should be careful not to allow your dog or cat too many treats from your table and instead stick to feeding them a specialised premium dog food or cat food with no added sugar. These foods are not only specialised to cater for your pet’s biological needs, but some even have dental formulas that actively clean your pet’s teeth:
For instance, the majority of the Eukanuba range of dog foods use their patented 3D Dental formula to coat their dry dog foods, which uses gentle abrasion to remove tartar deposits on your dog’s teeth. Eukanuba claims their formula reduces tartar by up to 80% in some cases, which when it comes to your dog’s oral hygiene, can potentially make a huge difference.
Other pet foods have similar systems, working with your pet’s saliva to actively break down unwanted plaque and tartar deposits too.
When it does come to treating your cat or dog (because let’s face it, we love them), it’s best to keep things low-sugar too, which fortunately most treats are. When it comes to dental care treats, it’s the ones that your pet really has to chew on that tend to get the best results. While most pet foods are designed for nutrition only, treats, on the other hand, are sometimes made to last, giving your pet’s jaw some exercise and strengthening their gums, as well as having the abrasive effect we mentioned before. Ones with added calcium help too, as this is needed to help grow strong teeth.
You can make further use of the beneficial chewing action by choosing the right toys for your pet. Anything they are tempted to stick their teeth into is usually a good start, with some dog toys specifically designed to help with dental hygiene.
Other Helping Hands
There are people in the pet community that still swear by pet toothbrushes and pastes, and there is some evidence to suggest that these can work, but as a general rule your pet is likely to absolutely detest having their teeth brushed, which can harm the bond between you and can potentially be quite dangerous as your pet tries to resist. Fortunately, as most vets will agree, you can accomplish most of the brushing required using the foods, treats and toys already mentioned.