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Teeth Cleaning On A Budget

Teeth Cleaning On A Budget
Photo credit: sanjoyg / Flickr

Just as good dental hygiene is critical to strong teeth and gums in humans, maintaining a good dental routine is also important for your pets. Here, we’ll take a look at the impact of dental disease on your dog’s overall health, some important signs to look for and how to keep your pet’s teeth clean on a budget.

Dental Disease and Your Dog’s Health

According to veterinarian Janet Tobiassen Crosby, “Dental disease affects up to 80% of pets over the age of three, and just like humans, there can be serious consequences of poor dental health.”

Excessive tartar buildup and infected areas (such as the gums) have a great deal of unhealthy bacteria which can travel throughout the body, negatively impacting your pet’s heart, kidneys and joints (among other organs). Regular dental cleanings are the best method for preventing dental disease.

Signs of Dental Disease in Pets

Jokes about “doggy breath” are fairly common, but its existence in your pet (especially if your dog’s breath is rather offensive) is often the first sign that problems exist. You should also check your dog’s gum health, as his or her gums should appear pink — not red and not a pale white color. Bleeding or swollen gums are also tell-tale signs of dental problems. So, too, are broken and/or missing teeth, drooling, cysts under the tongue, excessive tartar buildup on the teeth, loose teeth and tumors within the gums.

A change in your pet’s temperament can also signal trouble. If your pet begins to show signs of being lethargic, if he or she seems hesitant about playing with toys or beginning to eat, or if you notice your pet’s teeth chattering before he or she begins to eat, dental problems may exist. You’ll be glad to know that dental disease is progressive, so if you begin working at it quickly, it is entirely possible to slow its progression.

Keeping Your Pet’s Teeth Cleaned… On A Budget

When you’re on a budget, it can be tough to keep your pet’s dental cleaning schedule. However, there are great options available. For example, pet insurance is much more readily available, is generally affordable and in most cases covers routine maintenance costs, such as regular cleanings. Some forward-thinking veterinary offices have affordable packages for routine cleanings, helping you budget and save money.

Further, if you take a trip over to your favorite local pet store (or visit them online), you’ll generally find several options for canine tooth brushing kits. Your veterinarian can often provide you with canine toothpaste and mouthwash.

Performing the dental cleaning yourself can not only provide exceptional cost savings, it can also be a more pleasant experience for your dog because of the pre-established trust level. Before you begin, though, it’s a good idea to have your vet check your dog’s gum health.

Once you’ve gotten the “green light”, start slowly by first massaging your dogs gums once or twice a week for a minute or so. Once he or she is used to and comfortable with that, begin adding in a bit of canine toothpaste so he or she gets used to the taste of it.

Next, introduce the canine toothbrush, working in small circular motions, one area at a time. The side of the canine’s mouth is more susceptible to tartar buildup, so be sure to take your time in those areas. At the end, give a small downward stroke to remove any plaque buildup. Begin brushing your dog’s teeth at least two to three times per week.

Some other ways to keep your dog’s teeth clean while maintaining your budget include purchasing high quality dog chews (such as Nylabone, rawhides, etc.) that require a chewing motion that helps in cleaning the teeth. Water additives (like Clenz A Dent) can also be helpful with cleaning teeth.

Pet owners can also ask veterinarians about any cost-effective bundling plans they may offer, or payment plan options. Those considering pet insurance should be clear about deductibles and exclusions–as well as policy inclusions–before selecting a carrier to work with.

In conclusion, a steady and effective dental cleaning routine can help keep your pet’s gums (and overall health) in good condition. And as you can see, performing the cleanings at home is easy and is a great way to save money on canine dental cleanings.

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