Ask Hopeful Henry: February is National Pet Dental Health Month |

Ask Hopeful Henry: February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Smile and show your pearly whites because it’s pet dental health month. Here are some questions that will hopefully help everyone with their pet’s dental care.

Dear Hopeful Henry: My dog’s breath is really bad, he is 4 years old and his breath has never been great, but is getting worse. Any suggestions? Thanks. — Darin

Dear Darin: By the age of 3 years old, 80 percent of all dogs have oral disease, this is one of the main causes of bad breath in our pets. Not only is it the cause of bad breath but can also lead to much more severe medical issues. Fix bad breath by fixing the teeth and gums. See your veterinarian for a dental exam and to confirm that his teeth are actually the issue of his bad breath as there are many possible causes, from poor diets and digestive health, to sinus/respiratory infections, and many metabolic diseases such as kidney or renal disease. Did you know 65 percent of pet owners do not brush their pet’s teeth? You can maintain good dental health for your dog by investing just 2 minutes per day in brushing. You can reach 90 percent of the surface of a dog’s teeth just by brushing; flossing is not essential. This will help protect your pet’s teeth and your pet will be healthier and you will enjoy their fresher breath. Happy brushing. — Hopeful Henry

Dear Hopeful Henry: I have a Maine Coon cat and he is starting to drool a lot, mostly when he purrs. Do you know what some of the causes of excessive drool are? Sincerely, Mary.

Dear Mary: By the age of 3 years old, 70 percent of cats have oral disease. There are 10 common signs of dental disease they are bad breath, drooling, pawing the mouth, change in eating habits, not allowing face or mouth to be touched, swelling on cheeks or below eyes, draining face wound, sneezing, runny nose and weight loss.

Dental disease is also very common in Maine Coon, Ragdoll and Oriental breeds. It is usually more severe or progresses more rapidly than in other breeds.

What you do need to do is get to your vet for a dental exam! Then keep your kitty’s teeth clean by brushing daily. — Hopeful Henry

Dear Hopeful Henry: Is dry food better for my cat’s teeth and how do I brush my cats teeth? — Marvin

Dear Marvin: This is a very common misconception but the fact is that, for many cats, eating moist cat food causes fewer dental problems than eating hard kibble. Chewing kibble creates a special force, the abfraction force, that rocks the tooth and the rocking wears away tooth roots. This tooth injury is so common it has several names: resorptive lesion, feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion, cervical line lesion, and feline “neck” lesion. In addition to helping the teeth, moist food offers cats other benefits: fewer kidney and bladder stones and crystals.

When it comes to brushing your cats teeth initiating the process may be challenging at first, however, the key is to relax and have patience as it may take several attempts before successfully brush your pet’s teeth.

1. Have your pet sit in a relaxed position.

2. Massage or gently stroke your pet’s cheeks for several seconds every day.

3. Introduce toothpaste to your dog or cat by dabbing it on a treat or letting your pet lick off it your finger. Repeat this process for several days to familiarize your pet with the taste.

4. Dab toothpaste on a small toothbrush or finger toothbrush and without brushing, place into your pet’s mouth for a few seconds. Gradually increase to 15-30 seconds, still without brushing.

5. Once your pet is comfortable with this process, prep the toothbrush with toothpaste and slowly brush one tooth starting at the gum line working your way up to cover the entire tooth. Gradually increase to brushing several teeth.

6. Retract the lips creating a smile and brush the back molars. Gradually increase brushing time to a total of 1 minute for the upper dental arcade and 1 minute for the lower arcade.

7. If your pet tolerates only a short period of brushing, concentrate on the upper and outer molars.

8. Over the next few days, gradually increase brushing time to 1 minute on the upper teeth and 1 minute on the lower teeth.

9. Praise your pet!

Good question, thank you. — Hopeful Henry

— Submit your questions or letters via email to or by mail to P.O. Box PET, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. Visit the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA on Facebook at You can also become a Facebook friend of Hopeful Henry at Join us at our open house Feb. 25 from 2-7 p.m. at our new office location 870 Emerald Bay Road, Suite 104.

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