Pet Dental & Nail Care

Dog with a toothbrush

Nail and dental care are important aspects of your pet’s health and wellness, and shouldn’t be ignored.

Taking care of your pet’s teeth

Taking care of your pet’s teeth is important for their overall health. Not only does proper oral hygiene help to ensure your pet’s mouth stays healthy, it will help them stay pain-free. Proper oral care can help prevent tooth loss, bad breath, oral pain, organ damage, and worsening dental disease.

Dental disease affects the teeth, gums and structures that support and surround an animal’s teeth, beginning with plaque buildup on the teeth. Regular brushing helps to remove plaque from your pet’s teeth. When plaque remains on the teeth, it hardens into tartar. Tartar buildup requires a professional dental cleaning at a vet’s office.

Signs of dental disease in cats and dogs include loose or broken teeth, bad breath, drooling, pain or bleeding in the mouth, and refusal or inability to eat or drink. If your pet experiences any of these symptoms, seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible.

Brushing your pet’s teeth on a regular basis — ideally a few times per week — with a toothbrush and toothpaste specially formulated for dogs or cats is a good place to start when it comes to caring for their teeth. You can also give your pet dental treats or chews, which can help to clean the teeth as your pet eats them. Products such as dental sticks provide an outlet for chewing, while also cleaning your pet’s teeth. There are also breath sprays that can help to kill the bacteria in your pet’s mouth that cause bad breath and tooth decay. Some pet parents will use a water additive to help keep their pet’s mouth healthy.

Learning to brush your cat or dog’s teeth properly can take some time, but is worth the effort. It also offers an opportunity for pet parents to bond with their animal companion. If you make regular brushing a habit from an early age, your cat or dog will tolerate this routine well.

What if my pet has a chipped tooth?

If your pet has a chipped or broken tooth, they will need to be seen by a vet. This is because a chipped or broken tooth can be very painful for your pet, and can quickly become infected, leading to complications. Your pet might need a root canal or even to have the tooth pulled.

Taking care of your pet’s nails

While walking on pavement helps keep them filed, dogs will require regular nail trims in order to prevent them from becoming too long, which can impede a dog’s ability to walk comfortably, and even contribute to arthritis. Be sure to give your pooch plenty of praise and treats following a nail trim.

As a rule of thumb, you should trim your dog’s nails every 1-2 months. If your dog’s nails are clicking on the floor when they walk, it’s time to pull out the clippers. For dogs who are especially nervous of nail clippers, a nail grinder is another at-home option for trimming their tips. If you accidentally cut the quick of the nail, have some styptic powder on standby in order to stop the bleeding.

For most cats, regular nail trims aren’t always necessary. Most cats are active enough that they wear their nails down, especially if they have access to a scratching post. You should check your cat’s nails from time to time to ensure they don’t have any ingrown claws. Cat claws can curl in on themselves and grow into the footpad if they aren’t trimmed on a regular basis, which can be incredibly painful. They can also pose a hazard to people and furniture. If you are going to trim your cat’s claws, experts recommend doing so about every two weeks.

Providing your pet with regular dental and nail care will help to ensure they live a healthy, comfortable life, and provides an excellent bonding opportunity. While most treatments can be completed by pet parents at home, if you are uncomfortable cleaning your pet’s teeth or trimming their nails, you can always seek out the assistance of a professional groomer or your vet.

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