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Do you brush your pet's teeth? Why veterinarians say you should

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Posted at 2:24 PM, Feb 06, 2024

BILLINGS - When you think about your evening routine, brushing your teeth is likely included. But what about brushing your pet’s teeth?

Turns out, it’s something vets say you should do.

“Every night we have a little tooth-brushing festival,” said Billings resident Gary Mermet.

He says his dogs gather around him as soon as he pulls out their toothbrushes and gets the job done.

One reason he does it is his dog’s size.

“I’ve got a mini and a toy Aussie,” he says.

Mermet knows the first step to keeping them and him, happy starts with dental health.

“The nice thing is their breath smells reasonable,” he says.

February is considered National Pet Dental Month, designed to draw awareness about the importance of pet dental health.

Officials say dental health plays a vital role in your pet’s overall health.

“We get dogs in, where teeth are literally falling out,” said Dr. Edie Best with Billings Animal Family Hospital.

On this day at the clinic, Best is looking over a pug that recently had several teeth pulled from its mouth.

“Are you okay?” says Best as the dog recovers in a kennel.

Some of his teeth were in rough shape, which she says is relative to his breed and size.

“So, these little teeth, and so they are all crammed in this tiny little space, far more prevalent to have far more dental disease,” she said.

It's why Best says pet parents should make dental health a priority.

“We take the full mouth X-rays; we do the full exams with the probing and the pockets and all that,” she said. “And then we put all those pieces together to see are these teeth healthy or are there problems?”

One way to prevent bad teeth in your pet is of course brushing their teeth with a dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush as much as twice a day.

She says to never use human toothpaste and choose a specially formulated toothpaste for dogs, which most pet stores and veterinary offices carry.

Mermet found a vanilla mint toothpaste designed for dogs and a three-side dog brush online that he uses specifically for his dogs. He says it makes it much easier to get each side of the tooth.

Overall poor dental health can lead to so many other health risks, according to Best.

“Inflammation of the gums, that can lead to inflammation of the bones,” she said. “Heart disease, kidney disease…”

She also says it can interfere with our relationship with our pets.

“Because they drool more, they get bad breath and they want to be in our face they want to be right there with us,” she said.

And Mermet says even though it might feel awkward for your dog to start, he says consistency is key to success.