Dental Care: How to prevent common diseases
Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats
As advances in vaccination, nutrition and general care allow dogs and cats to live longer, keeping their mouth, teeth and gums healthy is critical to any wellness plan. Regular at-home and veterinarian dental care for dogs and cats may prevent common diseases caused by the overgrowth of bacteria, plaque and tartar which can lead to bad breath, tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.
It's never too early to start looking after your kitten's or puppy’s teeth.
How to do a Cat or Dog Home Dental Cleaning
Home dental cleaning, which includes regular brushing, will help prevent oral infections that can lead to liver, kidney and heart disease. Dental cleaning costs are low. Home dental cleaning is recommended for all ages of kittens, cats, puppies and dogs. As you brush, you will also be examining your pet’s teeth and mouth and be able to spot any abnormalities at a treatable stage.
Recommended products for home dental cleaning include:
- Sentry Petrodex Veterinary Strength Dog and Cat Dental Spray
- Oratene Water Additive
- C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpastes
- Nutri-Vet Dental Hygiene Kit for Dogs
- Sentry Petrodex Dental Kit for Adult Dogs
- Vetality Brush Free Dental Kit
Home dental cleaning requires toothbrushes, pastes, dental sprays and rinses made and flavored specifically for pets. Some owners prefer small finger brushes that fit over one finger; some prefer longer-handled brushes. Use the brush that you feel most comfortable with and the cleaning product that your pet easily accepts.
Do not use products made for humans, which have unneeded ingredients and can cause stomach upsets. Likewise, human toothbrushes are not shaped or angled for a pet’s mouth and the bristles are too hard.
All pets can be trained over 4 to 8 weeks to accept daily brushing. The key to training is to use patience and offer positive praise and treats for a job well done. This way your pet will start to look forward to the procedure.
To begin, have your pet sit in the same place every day and gently touch her face and mouth. When this procedure is well tolerated, use just your fingers and run them over your pet’s teeth, under the lips. When your pet accepts this process without a fuss, switch to a piece of dampened gauze or a soft, wet washcloth. Repeat the gentle washing of the outer surfaces of the teeth for at least a few weeks, and then switch to the toothbrush or finger brush. Start with only water on the brush, or a flavored broth that the pet will accept. Then switch to a flavored toothpaste. Most pets are acclimated to brushing within 4 to 8 weeks.
Dental Treats: Chewing and Diet
In addition to daily brushing, chewing helps clean your dog teeth and cat teeth. Dry diets can help keep teeth clean if your pet actually chews the food (many do not).
Rawhides, nylon bones, special “plaque attackers” and other toys will help maintain a healthy mouth and teeth. These are the safest chewing choices for most pets. Biscuits are also helpful and tend to be well chewed, but can add unwanted calories. Bones can help remove tartar, but can also break dog teeth.
Recommended products for dental treats, include:
- Greenies Dental Treats for Dogs and Cats
- OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews
- C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews
- C.E.T. HEXtra Premium Oral Hygiene Chews
- C.E.T. Veggiedent Fr3sh Tartar Control Chews
Veterinarian Dental Cleaning
Even with home brushing and dental treats, your pet’s teeth still need professional cleaning by your veterinarian. Dental prophylaxis is done while the pet is under anesthesia. Just as when you get your teeth cleaned, the pet’s teeth surfaces are scaled, plaque and tartar are removed from below the gum line, and the teeth are polished and treated with fluoride. Radiographs may be taken to look for hidden problems. This procedure may need to be done as often as every six months (just like in people), even with daily home care of your pet’s teeth.
About Pet Supplies Delivered
In 1964 in the Omaha Stockyards, a vet named “Doc” had an innovative idea: cattle ranchers could save time, money, and lives by administering their own vaccinations. This visionary idea, and Doc’s pioneering spirit, continue today in Pet Supplies Delivered, the company he started. Doc’s vision lives on with Pet Supplies Delivered putting medical treatment directly in the hands of consumers when they need it and at a lower price.
Updated February 4, 2021