Pet Care
February 5, 2024

Smile Bright: At Home Tips for Pet Dental Month!

February is Pet Dental Month! Did you know that 80% of dogs over age three and up to 90% of cats over age four have dental disease?! Dental disease is one of the most common diseases diagnosed by veterinarians. Learn what to look for and top tips for helping your pets keep their teeth sparkling and healthy.

Brushing a cat's teeth

Did you know that 80% of dogs over age three and up to 90% of cats over age four have dental disease?!  Dental disease is one of the most common diseases diagnosed by veterinarians. 

Dental disease is more than just bad breath!

Signs of dental disease include bad breath, tartar build up, red and/or swollen gums, difficulty chewing, abnormal chewing, difficulty eating or refusal to eat, broken or loose teeth, and bleeding gums.  If dental disease is left untreated, the bacteria can even enter the bloodstream causing significant organ damage!

Unlike humans, who typically suffer from cavities and tooth decay, dogs and cats most commonly develop periodontal disease.  Periodontal disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque and tartar causing inflammation and infection of the gums.  If periodontal disease is left untreated, the bacteria can travel deeper into the gums to the tooth roots and begin to destroy the bone.  

Periodontal disease is categorized in four stages:  

  • Stage 1: Gingivitis, which is- inflammation of the gums (the only stage that is reversible) 
  • Stage 2: Early periodontal disease with less than 25% bone loss
  • Stage 3: Established periodontal disease with 25-50% bone loss
  • Stage 4: Advanced periodontal disease with more than 50% bone loss

Periodontal disease can be very painful for our pets. Besides bone and tooth loss, severe periodontal disease can cause even more damage to our pet’s overall health. The bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause damage to the heart, kidneys, and liver!

Dental Care at Home

Prevention of dental disease starts at home:

  • Ideally, your pet’s teeth should be brushed daily but even a few times a week can be extremely beneficial.
  • Offer your pet dental treats!  There are several dental treats on the market that can help prevent plaque build up as well as freshen breath.
  • Offer your pet dental toys! There are also several types of dental toys available that are designed to mimic brushing and can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy,

Your pet’s teeth should be evaluated by their veterinarian at least once a year to catch early signs of disease, and routine professional dental cleanings may be recommended. 

How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth at Home: 

Always use a pet safe toothpaste, never human toothpaste! Brush in gentle circular motions.

Unfortunately, if there is already a substantial amount of tartar build-up on the teeth, they will most likely need an ultrasonic dental cleaning at the veterinarian’s office. Daily brushing and regular dental examinations/cleanings with your veterinarian will help keep your pet healthy and happy!