News & Advice

Say AHHH… Could Dental Disease Be Affecting Your Pet?

May 20, 2024 | Cats, Dogs, Health and Wellness, Pet Health

Have you ever stopped to think about your pet’s dental health? Most animals don’t brush their teeth every night, so they can develop similar problems as people who neglect their dental hygiene. Dental disease is one of the most common diseases in dogs and cats, affecting 80% of dogs and 70% of cats by age three.

Signs to look out for:

Take a minute to look in your dog or cat’s mouth. Do you notice any of the following?

  • Bad breath
  • Yellow teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Extra teeth
  • Tartar build up


If left untreated, dental disease can lead to serious issues like gum and tooth irritation, gum recession, infection, and tooth loss. Pets may often suffer in silence, but there are some warning signs you can look out for:

  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Excess salivation
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Tooth loss
  • Abscess formation


How can I prevent my pet from getting dental disease? What are the treatment options?

Preventing dental disease is easier than treating it. Start by regularly checking your pet’s mouth and introducing good oral hygiene habits.

  • Brush your pet’s teeth regularly with pet-safe toothpaste. Brushing must be introduced to your pet slowly and can begin by rubbing his/her lips and gums with your finger before introducing a finger brush or toothbrush. When the brush is first introduced, start by only brushing a few teeth at a time, and eventually work up to include all teeth. Many pets will not tolerate their teeth being brushed (especially cats), so other forms of dental prevention can be adopted.
  • Dental treats and chew toys can be given to dogs and cats to help encourage chewing and prevent the formation of plaque and tartar.
  • Feed your pet quality dog food. Some pets will benefit from “dental diets” that help scrub their teeth as they chew or have additives that prevent plaque from hardening. Talk to your vet about what diet is right for your pet.


Additionally, regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are essential to maintaining your pet’s oral health. If your pet is diagnosed with dental disease, they may require a dental scale under general anaesthesia. This involves scaling and polishing the teeth and possible tooth extractions.


vet checks small dogs teeth and oral health



Why is dental care important?

Did you know that 75% of health problems seen by vets have ties to dental disease? Gum disease is usually silent. When it starts, there are no outward signs and symptoms. Yet once it advances, gum disease can devastate your pet’s mouth, causing chronic pain, eroded gums, missing teeth, and bone loss — a fate hardly fair to man’s best friend.

Dental disease is very painful, and our pets can’t tell us when they are not feeling well. Studies show that cats and dogs experience pain like we do, but they often hide their pain. Protecting our pets from the agony of decaying/infected teeth and gums is one of the most important things we can do to keep them healthy, comfortable, and happy.

Don’t wait until your pet shows signs of dental disease. Start incorporating good oral hygiene habits into their routine now. Schedule a dental check-up with your veterinarian and discuss the best ways to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. Your pet will thank you with a brighter, fresher smile and improved overall health.


Other resources you may find helpful:

Dental disease – is your pet hiding pain?

Your pet’s diet can improve your pet’s disease

Gum disease is regrettably common but it can be prevented


The cat and dog are in a selfie with their mouths open, smiling. The image focuses on the pet's teeth.
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