The Whole Bowl

Dental Care For Pets

Dental health is an important part of your pet’s overall wellbeing. 85% of pets already have evidence of periodontal disease by the age of 3.[1] If not detected and treated at an early stage, this may lead to serious health conditions beyond oral health, including kidney, liver and heart functions. It’s important to be aware of the causes of dental problems, and to be able to identify the signs that your pet is suffering from periodontal disease.

Dental problems in pets start when plaque hardens into tartar. Tartar above the gum line can easily be seen and removed, but plaque below the gum line is damaging, and sets the stage for infection and injury to the jawbone.

Take your cat or dog to the veterinarian if you observe any of the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Broken teeth
  • Abnormal chewing or dropping food from their mouth
  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • Signs of blood in your pet’s water bowl or on chew toys
  • Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

Below are some of the ways to promote the dental health of your pet. Consult with your veterinarian to choose a dental health plan for your cat or dog that best fits your lifestyle.

Professional Cleaning: The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends a regular professional teeth cleaning for your dog or cat, starting at 1 or 2 years old, depending on their size. Your pet will be put under anesthesia so that each tooth will receive proper attention and care, including under the gum line.

Home Care: An at home dental care routine for your pet is an important part of tooth maintenance. Veterinary experts recommend regular tooth brushings and, if possible, multiple times a week. This will help remove most plaque before it can mineralize into tartar. If a toothbrush scares your pet, you can get nearly the same result by wiping their teeth with a gauze pad or dental wipe from your local pet supply store.

Dental Treats: Some pet food and treat products offer additional dental health benefits. In order for pet food makers to make a claim related to dental health, such as cleansing teeth or preventing tartar buildup, the package must communicate how that effect is achieved (such as small ridges or a porous consistency).

Every day is an opportunity to improve your pet’s oral health. Pet lovers can extend their dog or cat’s longevity and quality of life by adding oral care to their routine.

[1] Beard G, Emily P, Mulligan T, Williams C.  American Animal Hospital Association, Veterinary Dentistry, Course 1, 1989.