Dental Care for your Pet

Author: Amanda   Date Posted:1 August 2016 



Dental disease (Periodontal disease) is the most common disease in dogs and cats and according to statistics from the Australian and American Dental Societies.  Did you know 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease by 3 years of age! ?


If left untreated, the problem only becomes more severe as your pet ages, and can lead to the problem spreading to vital organs such as the kidneys, heart and liver.


The good news is that dental disease is entirely preventable and along with having your pet visit their Veterinarian for regular health checks, a home dental routine will go along way to keeping your pet’s mouth in top condition.


What is Periodontal disease?

 This occurs when food particles and bacteria in the mouth form a substance called plaque.  Over time if this is not cleaned away the minerals in the saliva in the mouth harden the plaque into tartar (or calculus), which is attached firmly to the teeth.  This can cause gum irritation and an inflammatory condition called gingivitis.  This is considered the initial stages of periodontal disease. 

*Remember if your dog or cat has bad breath it means there is plaque or tartar.

As the disease progress it affects the tissues and structures supporting the teeth.  It can lead to loss of gum tissue and bone around the teeth; tooth loss and bacteria can also enter the bloodstream causing systemic complications.


Some points to consider:

Teeth alignment Dogs and cats that have teeth that are abnormally aligned in the mouth are more prone to the accumulation of plaque and tartar.  This can occur due to:

  • Breed of cat or dog

* Small and toy breeds (such as Poodles, Maltese and Chihuahuas) and short nosed breeds such as Pugs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Pekingese are more prone to dental disease due to the fact their teeth are closer together – they have exactly the same amount of teeth as a Great Dane!

* Short nosed cat breeds such as Persians, British shorthairs and Exotic shorthairs have small jawbones that are often too small to accommodate the teeth resulting in overcrowding and misalignment.




Retention of deciduous (baby) teeth.

In some cats and dogs, their deciduous teeth may fail to fall out, even though their adult teeth have erupted.  This can cause the adult teeth to be incorrectly positioned and also cause food and hair to be trapped in between these two teeth – and smelly breath!

It is important that you have your veterinarian check that all your dog and cat’s baby teeth have fallen out naturally. In some instances they may will need to have these extracted under a general anesthetic.








A diet of soft food provides little or no abrasive action against the teeth as very little chewing is involved and can lead to the build up of plaque and bacteria in the mouth.

A diet consisting of dry food does require your pet to chew more and therefore more abrasive action occurs against the teeth.



How will I know if there is a problem?

Apart from bad breath some owners may not be aware at all that there is a problem.  It is very common for many pets to have problems for many years before the problem has become so advanced your cat or dog cannot hide the pain anymore.


Signs to pay attention to are:

  • Bad Breath

  • Inflamed or bleeding gums

  • Drooling

  • Broken Teeth

  • Pawing at their mouth

  • Reluctance to eat








Check your Pet's Mouth

It is important to check your pet's mouth regularly. If you get into this habit, detecting any abnormalities will be much easier if you have been monitoring their breath, teeth and gums.  Developing a good dental routine for your pets will not only save you money but also save your pet from the pain and discomfort that can occur with dental disease.


Tips for Keeping your Pet’s Mouth Healthy

  • Brushing – the gold standard of dental care.  Just like we brush our teeth everyday, brushing your pet’s teeth will help reduce any plaque or tartar buildup.  There are dental kits with pet friendly toothpaste and toothbrushes available.  It is easier to establish this routine with a young puppy or kitten, however with patience and persistence your pet may accept this routine.  If you are unsure how to get started ask your veterinarian at your next pet’s check up to show you or view theYou Tube Clips at the end of this Blog.

There are special tooth brushes and tooth brushes designed to make cleaning your pet's teeth easy:

*Remember do not use human toothpaste as they contain abrasive and foaming agents that are not to be swallowed.


Water Additives

There are a range of products you can add to your pet's drinking water as a preventative to plaque and tartar build up, and also keep their breath smelling clean.



Dental Sprays, Foams & Gels

If brushing your dog or cat's teeth is a scary prospect, there are a range of products you can use - with no brushing required!





Keep your pet on a good quality dry food diet designed to keep their mouth, gums and teeth clean.

A specially designed dental diet is a great way to ensure that you keep dental disease at bay.  These diets have specially designed biscuits (in shape, size and texture) to encourage chewing.  Cats are renowed for swallowing their kibble whole, so a diet specifically targeted at maintaining dental health is important.  The mechanical action created by chewing provdies a gental abrasive against the teeth, helping to breakdown the bacteria that causes plaque to form.  These diets also help to reduce gingivitis (gum inflammation)

If you have a Small breed of dog or a Short nosed cat breed, or find brushing your pet's teeth too difficult, then it is important to start them on a diet for oral health as soon as possible. These diets - such as Hill's Science Diet Oral Care are generally recommended from when a dog and cat reaches maturity/adult hood.  This will help prevent dental disease occuring - saving you money and your pet a sore, smelly mouth and many trips to the Veterinarian.

These diets are complete and balanced - providing your pet wit all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need.

There is also a range of Veterinarian Prescribed Dental Diets for those pets which have pre exisiting dental disease or are more prone to developing dental issues.  They can also be used for the life of your pet.

A check up with your pet's veterinarian is recommended prior to commencing a dental diet as they may require a dental scale and polish or specific treatment it there are any existing problems.  It is always a good idea to discuss you pet's diet with the veterinarian prior to commencing.


Dental Diets available for your Dog & Cat




  • Meaty Bones

Ensure your dog is given a raw bone that has a good amount of meat (Lamb Necks, Lamb Shanks or Brisket Bones or Soup bones are great options) As your dog works to get the meat of the bone it is flossing it’s teeth helping to reduce that tartar accumulation.  

  • For cats and small dogs – raw chicken necks or chicken wings are a good option. 

Generally 1-2 raw bones per week can be offered. Too many bones can lead to constipation.

Bones must always be raw -NEVER COOKED

Avoid large marrow bones (these have very thick outer rims), T-bones, 'chop' bones e.g. lamb cutlets, large knuckle bones and bones sawn lengthwise - dogs can damage and even break their teeth and they don't have any flossing benefits due to their lack of meat. Ensure the bone is big enough for your dog that it cannot be swallowed whole.



There a a wide variety of dental toys available for dogs.  These generally are made of nylon or rubber and have specially designed grooves or dental nubs to clean teeth and gums.

Why not try one of a range of Dental toys available?:


Dental Kongs

Tasty Bone Nylon

Tasty Bone Dental Bone in Parsley or Peppermint

Tasty Bone Rubber bones & rings

Rogz DaBone


Kongs can also be stuffed with Kong Easy Treat Paste or alternatively you can spread this in the grooves to encourage chewing.  This paste comes in different flavours to suit your dog's palette.

Puppies will also benefit from chew toys while they are going through the process of loosing their baby 'deciduous' teeth and the adult teeth are erupting.  Their gums can be sore and chewing will help to ease this discomfort.  Starting your puppy on a home dental regime will also help you develop the habit of keeping their teeth and gums healthy throughout their life.

Such toys as:

Kong Puppy Teething Stick

Kong Puppy Goodie Bone

both of the Kong puppy dental products can be spread with Kong Puppy Easy Treat Paste to encourage chewing.

Tasty Bone Flexi Bone

Rogz Puppy DaBone







Why not give your dog or cat a treat and at the same time  help encourage good oral care and reduce plaque and tartar build up!










As dental disease is so common with your pets, many will need to have their teeth professionally cleaned by their veterinarian.  This requires a general anaesthetic and allows for a through examination of the oral cavity. Using an ultrasonic cleaner, tartar buildup is removed from above the gum line.  The teeth are then polished with a fine grade dental paste.  All teeth are checked for any detachment from the gum line and also if any teeth require extracting. 

With a range of products and handy information available we hope that you your pet will be smiling in no time!







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