09/03/2009 03:53 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Keeping Your Pet's Pearly Whites, White!

Our pets beg for a lot of things, but rarely do we hear them bark or purr for us to brush their teeth. Oral hygiene is just important with our pets as it is with ourselves and without proper dental care, by age three 70-80% of cats and dogs will develop periodontal disease, a serious oral illness that can cut a pet's life-span.

You love your pet, so why not take the extra time in the day to get their teeth pristine clean? Don't know how? Wendy Diamond, leading Pet Lifestyle expert, TV Personality, Animal Rescue Advocate and Editorial director of Animal Fair Magazine has been keeping up with the pet trends for over a decade. Check out the following tips on how to eliminate bad breath and clean your pet's teeth, which will all lead to a happier, healthier life.

1. Feeding your pet canned food can factor into dental problems. Soft foods stick between gums and teeth, which can make it more prone to bacteria, leading to plaque and gingivitis. Dry food and hard biscuits are safer for the dog's teeth and contribute less to dental problems.

2. If your pet isn't accustom to brushing, start their dental odyssey with your fingers or something simple like medical gauze. This will help ease your dog or cat to become accustom to that brushing feeling. If it's too problematic start doing only a few teeth a day and increase the number of teeth until your pet is more comfortable.

3. Once your dog or cat is used to the brushing sensation, purchase a pet-friendly toothbrush (not your own) and toothpaste. Never use "human" toothpaste. Also, unlike humans, pets should brush only once a week, but 2-3 times a week is ideal.

4. Can't get your dog to open up? There are safe, effective, non-bristled options out there for those stubborn dogs and cats. There are many products veritably odorless products that can be poured into fresh water to help clean. Also, chlorophyll tablets, available at most pet stores, are like doggy mints that freshen breath as they clean teeth.

5. If you've exhausted all these possible cures, then talk with your veterinarian. Most veterinarians offer a professional teeth cleaning and search for gingivitis or periodontal disease. Persistent bad breath could be a symptom of a more serious problem such as kidney or liver disorder.

For more information, check out