Dental Care for Pets

What is Dental Care for Pets?

Dental health for pets is more than just fresh breath.

The majority of cats and dogs over age 3 have some form of dental disease. Just like humans, pets need daily at-home dental care to keep their teeth clean, as well as annual dental check-ups to ensure their mouth is healthy.

Brushing your pet's teeth is the most effective way to maintain good oral health. Daily brushing with pet-friendly toothpaste breaks up plaque, the transparent, bacteria-laden film that forms over the enamel, before it hardens into tartar, which is much harder to remove.

Dogs and cats do not always tolerate having their teeth brushed, especially if they have not been acclimated to it at a young age. It can be difficult for pet parents to remember to brush daily, or to effectively brush hard-to-reach teeth.

Alternatives to brushing can also help reduce bacteria and plaque and prevent tartar from forming, plus freshen breath and help maintain healthy gums. Dental gels, sprays, wipes, as well as dental treats and water additives can all be used as part of a home dental care routine.

Pets should also see their veterinarian for a professional in-office dental cleaning every six months to two years, or as recommended by their vet. A professional dental cleaning under anesthesia allows the vet to take x-rays, clean beneath the gumline, and find and treat infections, cavities, and other oral health concerns.

Brushing your pet's teeth is the most effective way to maintain good oral health

Why Do Pets Need Dental Care?

After cats and dogs eat, food particles stick on and between teeth, leading to bacterial buildup and the formation of plaque. If plaque is not removed through brushing or with other pet dental solutions, it can form tartar in as little as 48 hours. Tartar is calcified plaque that must be removed by a vet, as it will not come off with brushing. If left untreated, poor oral health can lead to painful complications.

Proper dental hygiene for cats and dogs can prevent:/p>

  • Oral bacteria overload that can spread to the heart, kidneys, and other organs throughout the body
  • Painful dental infections which can lead to abscesses and tooth loss
  • Inability to eat due to painful teeth and gums
  • Gingivitis, or red, inflamed, bleeding gums

If you're concerned about your pet's oral health, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. After an exam and cleaning, your vet can show you how to keep your pet's teeth clean and healthy between dental visits

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Protect Against Dental Disease in Pets

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Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Health for Pets
How often should I brush my cat or dog's teeth?
Tartar can start to form just 24-48 hours after a meal, so it's important to brush your pet's teeth daily. If you're not able to keep up with a daily brushing routine, aim for at least twice weekly.
What if my pet won't let me brush my teeth?
What are signs my pet may have a dental health problem?
Does my pet need to see a dentist?

I have another question about dental care for pets! Learn more about your dog or cat's oral health with our Pet Health Advice or talk to your vet at your pet's next visit.