Pet Dental Care - Tips to Manage Your Pet’s Oral Health

Vet checking cat's teeth

Learn How to Improve Your Pet's Oral Health

How healthy are your pet's pearly whites? Without proper dental care, your furry friend may develop painful infections and even lose teeth. These tips will help you protect your pet's teeth and gums.

Brush Your Pet's Teeth

Brushing removes plaque, a clear bacterial film that constantly coats the teeth. Plaque is a factor in tooth decay, but unlike humans, dogs and cats rarely develop cavities.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that it's safe for plaque to remain on their teeth. Plaque turns into tartar if it's not removed within a week or two. Tartar, a hard, yellow deposit, irritates the gums and can cause inflammation and periodontal (gum) disease.

Daily brushing gets rid of plaque, preventing it from ever transforming into tartar. It's never too late to start brushing your cat or dog's teeth. Although it's easier to start brushing when your pet is a puppy or kitten, many older animals will eventually permit you to brush their teeth if you start the process gradually.

You may find brushing is easier if you:

  • Let Your Furry Friend Lick or Smell the Toothpaste. Place a dab of pet toothpaste on your finger or a pet toothbrush and let your cat or dog sniff or lick it. Never use human toothpaste, as the ingredients can be toxic to animals. Pet toothpaste is a much better choice. The toothpaste contains flavors pets find appealing, like chicken, beef, seafood, and peanut.
  • Rub Your Pet's Teeth. Once you've found a toothpaste flavor your pet likes, place a tiny amount on your finger and briefly rub the paste across the gums. Offering a treat when you're through may make teeth cleaning more acceptable to your pet. Keep in mind that you're not actually trying to clean your pet's teeth at this point. Rubbing the gums with the paste helps your furry friend adjust to the sensation of brushing.
  • Try Brushing When Your Pet Is Comfortable. Squirt a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a pet toothbrush or a finger brush, and gently brush your pet's teeth and gum line using a circular motion. Although both types of brushes remove plaque, a traditional toothbrush may be more effective in removing plaque at the gum line.

Patience is a must when you're starting an oral hygiene routine. It may take a week or two until you can progress from one step to another.

Choose Tooth-Friendly Foods and Treats

Some types of foods, treats, gels, sprays, and additives are specially formulated to prevent plaque and tartar build-up. Talk to your pet's veterinarian about the best foods and products for good oral health.

Schedule Checkups and Teeth Cleanings

Your oral health would suffer if you never saw the dentist or had your teeth cleaned. Pets need checkups and cleanings too. During your pet's exam, the veterinarian will look for signs of trouble, such as broken teeth, swollen or receding gums, bleeding, or loose teeth. Your vet may also recommend X-rays, as some tooth problems may not be obvious.

Teeth cleaning, recommended at least once a year, reduces your pet's risk of developing periodontal disease. The disease can cause bad breath, make chewing painful, and may infect or damage gum tissue, bones, ligaments, and teeth. If gum disease isn't treated, your pet's teeth may even fall out.

Periodontal disease may also increase the likelihood that your dog or cat will develop diabetes, or kidney, liver, or heart disease. According to an article in Today's Veterinary Practice, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of periodontal disease by age 2. Among dogs, toy and small breeds are most likely to develop the disease.

Although brushing your pet's teeth removes plaque above the gum line, plaque and tartar may still be present below the gums. A dental cleaning is the only way to remove the substances from under the gums.

Dental cleanings are performed under anesthesia. Blood tests are required before cleanings to ensure that your pet is in good health and can tolerate the anesthesia. Cleanings offer a simple, safe way to protect your pet's oral and general health.

Oral care is an essential aspect of good health. Let us know if your pet is due for a cleaning or you're concerned about tooth or gum problems.

Sources:

American Animal Hospital Association: 10 Facts You Need to Know to Protect Your Pet’s Oral (and Overall!) Health

AVMA: Pet Dental Care

Tufts Now: Chew on This, 12/10/20

Today’s Veterinary Practice: Periodontal Disease: Utilizing Current Information to Improve Client Compliance

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule closed holiday's including day after Thanksgiving.

Tacoma Office

Monday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Thursday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

  • "Unfortunately had to put down my 15 year old cat. Jones animal staff is compassionate and honest when you need them to be most. Every time in you can see the passion everyone there has for every pet they see. I know who I can trust when i get a puppy soon. Thank you for the care and making the best of a tough situation."
    Justin S.
  • "Friendly Drs and staff fancy coffee for while you wait!"
    Tom D.
  • "Love goes they care for my boys and are so helpful!!"
    Trisha C.
  • "The staff is wonderful, just a pleasure to work with"
    Tonja P.
  • "We used to see another Veterinarian, however, when our dog was sick we couldn't get an appointment for a couple of weeks. My daughter recommended Jones Animal Hospital, and I called. I was able to get our dog in the same day. When we met with Dr. Jones, he answered all of my questions completely without rushing me at all. We have been treated promptly, with friendly respect by the entire staff each time we visit. The medical care has been knowledgeable and helpful. The fees are extremely reasonable, too. We have found our animals' home for medical care!"
    Dori O.
  • "The people here are so nice and are very concerned for the animals they treat. Prices are the most reasonable I have come across as well. I recently took in one of my young kitties to be spayed, they keep them override which is nice so they can make sure they have they the experience well. The day after I brought her home, they called to check up on her to see how she was doing. I have never had a veterinary office do that before. I would recommend this office to anyone & everyone!!"
    Darlene B.
  • "They always seem to offer great compassionate care. And they were relatively affordable as well."
    Erik N.
  • "They have been taking wonderful care of my pets for many years."
    Corey D.
  • "I never take my fur babies anywhere else! I know I can trust the staff here & I know they CARE about the animals & their companions. Dr. Jones did retire, but the remaining staff is like family to me. They never charged more than I could afford because they always run the options by me first. I recently had to say goodbye to my 20 year old cat - It was inevitable but VERY painful. Even though they were very busy & they had to squeeze us in that day, they still offered to have one of the staff members sit with me as I said goodbye. I don't know anywhere else that gives that level of comfort!"
    Danielle P.
  • "We love our vet! Been using this vet for over 15 years. NO complaints!"
    Karen S.