Dental Health For Your Furry Friends

Dental health is an important factor in the overall health of your pet. Dental problems can be caused by or lead to a host of other health problems. Routine care and an understanding of your pet’s mouth can help ward off potential issues.


Periodontal Disease

Periodontal, or gum, disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support the teeth and is the most
common dental condition among cats and dogs. By age 3, 70% of cats and 50% of dogs will have some form of periodontal disease. Untreated, periodontal disease can lead to kidney, liver and heart problems.


Periodontal disease begins when plaque hardens. Plaque above the gumline can be removed by your vet during a regular cleaning. It is the plaque that builds below the gumline that is the concern as it can lead to an infection.


Make Dental Care a Routine

You brush your teeth daily, right? Most people do, yet don’t brush their pet’s teeth. While you don’t need to do it daily, it should be done a few times a week. When you first introduce this new activity to your pet, chances are they aren’t going to like it. Don’t force it! You can start with allowing him to smell the brush and toothpaste without actually brushing a few times first. Once you begin brushing, do so for a few seconds so they become comfortable with the idea. Gradually work up to brushing 1 minute per side of their mouth.  


Human toothpaste is a definite no-no — yes, even the organic, all natural brands. You can find pet-safe toothpaste in the pet aisle of most stores and of course, at your vets office.


Though not as effective, there are treats & toys that are designed to promote oral health. While these should not be used as a substitute to brushing, they can help with bad breath and may minimize plaque between them.


Vet Visits

An annual visit to the vet for a standard oral exam and cleaning is the best way to keep your pet’s dental health in check. If you notice your pet has extremely bad breath, broken or loose teeth, is chewing abnormally, drooling more or exhibits signs of swelling, a visit prior to their next annual dental check up is warranted.


An exam will typically begin with x-rays. These evaluate the health of your pets jaw and tooth roots below the gum line as they are not visible to the naked eye. Your vet will also assess your pet’s head and neck areas for abnormalities on their gums and teeth and look for lumps and bumps.  Scaling or scraping of the teeth will also occur.  This process will remove any plaque and tartar buildup.


Often times, this can be stressful for pets. Depending on their disposition, anesthesia may be used to make them more comfortable. You and your vet can discuss if this an option that would be beneficial for your pet.



February is National Pet Dental Health Month. It’s the perfect time to get into a good routine with your pet or make an appointment with your vet if it has been more than a year since your last visit.