The Importance of Oral Hygiene for Pets

Board-certified veterinarian Joel Todd Leroy Prince currently serves as medical partner with Elmhurst Animal Care Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, where he offers comprehensive pet care for small animals such as dogs, cats, birds, and reptiles. In addition to veterinary vaccinations and surgery, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince and clinic staff advise on aspects of pet care, including oral health.

Oral hygiene is essential to maintaining a pet’s overall health. Not only does keeping an animal’s teeth clean promote a healthy smile, it can also prevent painful periodontal disease. By age 3, 70% of dogs and cats show signs of gum disease. By age 1, pets should receive a thorough exam that identifies any problems or issues with teeth, gums, or oral cavities. After that, pets should visit the dentist annually for cleaning, polishing, and fluoride treatment.

To promote oral health at home, pet owners can brush their pet’s teeth a few times a week. They can also purchase tooth-friendly dry dog foods and biscuits, which can slow down the build-up of plaque and tartar, while chew toys strengthen teeth, massage the pet’s gums, and scrape away tartar.

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Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince: Tips for Pet Dental Care at Home

While all pet owners should schedule regular dental checkups for their animals, individuals can adopt a number of habits at home to ensure good dental health. Pet stores sell toothpaste and toothbrushes especially designed for pets. Brushing a pet’s teeth regularly significantly reduces buildup of plaque and tartar. Owners should always introduce brushing slowly to allow a pet to gradually build up a tolerance to the motion and taste. Veterinarians can teach owners the best brushing techniques.

Pet owners may also want to consider food and treats designed for tooth health. Some foods have a specific size and matrix that gently scrubs the tooth as the pet chews. Many manufacturers also make treats designed to do the same. Giving these treats regularly encourages healthy teeth. Some sprays, rinses, and gels also exist on the market, but not all of them prove equally effective. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) rates these types of products according to their effectiveness. Individuals can access this information on the VOHC website.

A canine and feline oncology specialist, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince offers a range of veterinary services through the Elmhurst Animal Care Center.