Last week we started to talk about dental care for pet carnivores , ie , dogs , cats and ferrets. We have seen that diet and tooth brushing are very important in keeping our animals with an ideal dental health.
Last week we also talked about using a enzymatic toothpaste . But there are other types of products that can also be used. Toothpastes and rinses containing chlorhexidine are also quite popular. Chlorhexidine is one of the best oral antiseptic that exists today. In addition to being bactericidal , it has a very interesting residual time of at least four hours in the mouth of the animal . Some products containing chlorhexidine literally resembles human mouthwash and when equipped with a fragrance (ex; mint), they can give a ” Dentyne breath ” to our little companions. If this product is so good for our animals , why not use it regularly for humans? Well… the answer is a matter of aesthetics. Over time, chlorhexidine tends to make teeth turn brownish. For an animal that has a average life expectancy , say 18 years , it matters less but for Canadians, who have a life expectancy of over 75 years , it’s another story.
Cats ,on the other end, tend to dislike flavored solutions .For cats , one of our preferred product is a gel made with zinc and vitamin C. The product is very effective in fighting gingivitis and plaque and ,very important… cats do not hate the taste , which is a key asset for regular use.
For poultry , beef or malt flavored toothpastes, we mentioned that you needed your pet to taste it before you even begin applying it on it’s teeth. For products like chlorhexidine toothpastes , the technique is a little different. You will need a healthy treat that your pet loves to be able to use the toothpaste . You should always start by giving the treat. Thereafter , the solution on the gums of the animal is applied with a finger after the first application its time for another treat and so on. Once your pet is used to it, you can begin to apply the solution with a toothbrush .
By the way, this reward technique of positive conditioning was used by one of our client who was able to brush the teeth of her three Shetland Shepherds with an electric toothbrush. And believe us, the results are spectacular !
Mind you, rabbits , chinchillas and guinea pigs also need dental care. The treatment is completely different from those provided to our pet carnivores . Indeed , since the teeth of these animals grow continuously , it is not useful to brush their teeth . In fact, even though their teeth do not grow ad infinitum , it would be very difficult to brush their teeth, particularly those in back.
With these species , dental problems are not associated with the formation of tartar and gingivitis, but from uneven tooth wear. Several factors explain this anomaly, but the main one is the kind and quality of the food provided to them. In the Wild, rodents and rabbits wear their teeth by grinding very hard and fibrous food. In Canada (and around the world for that matter… ), the main food offered to them is composed of granules. These granules are actually different types of hay,grinded in industrial food processors and pelletized . The fiber of these granules is not as effective against tooth wear as the original hay which it is derived . In addition, many rabbits swallow their food without even chewing it properly which may also lead to an impaction of the stomach. The solution to this problem is simple. Give some molding ( a 1/4 cup per day for a two kilo rabbit ) and offer a good quality hay , such as timothy hay , at will. It will not solve all their dental problems , but it will do a great deal to reduce them.