Thursday, February 11, 2010

February as National Pet Dental Health Month

Just as it is for humans, oral health care is essential for dogs to prevent the plaque and tartar that lead to periodontal disease—which can cause bad breath, irritated and bleeding gums, and, in severe cases, microscopic damage to major organs—and to avoid abscesses and tooth loss.

To commemorate February as National Pet Dental Health Month, following are some basic tips for maintaining your pit bull’s good oral health at home via toothbrushing.

How to Do It:
  • To acclimate your dog to the process, begin with a drop of toothpaste that he can lick off your finger, followed by gentle gum massage.
  • Increase the amount of time spent with each subsequent gum massage. It is recommended that you ultimately spend 1 to 2 minutes per brushing.
  • Once your dog is accustomed to the feeling, phase in the use of a toothbrush.
Additional Tips:
  • Daily toothbrushings are preferred for optimal oral health.
  • Use a toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs, as human toothpaste is not fit for consumption, and dogs can’t spit.
  • Don’t brush too vigorously, as this can strip enamel from the teeth and injure the gums.
  • Don’t brush when in a hurry—this will likely have the undesirable consequence of toothbrushing aversion in your dog.
Note: In dogs not on prescription medications, a tooth that has changed color (to pink, dark purple, or black) is indicative that the tooth is dying or dead and it should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

Veterinary Oral Health Council: Kate Knutson. Caring for your pet’s teeth. Healthy Pet. Winter 2009.

(Thank you, Brewski, for modelling.)

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