Brush Up On The Facts Pets Need Good Oral Hygiene

Brush Up On The Facts: Pets Need Good Oral Hygiene

Imagine what your mouth would feel like if you never got to brush your teeth or visit a dentist? Oral hygiene is as essential for your pet’s optimal health and well-being as it is for you. By three years of age, two-thirds of dogs and cats show signs of periodontal disease making it the most common disease affecting pets. As a pet owner, you can help prevent periodontal disease in your cat or dog by learning proper tooth brushing techniques and partnering with your family veterinarian.

Our pets have bacteria in their mouths just like us. Over time bacteria builds up and begins to destroy the gum tissue, the structures that hold teeth in place, and the jaw. This process is insidious as it begins under the gumline where it cannot be seen by the naked eye. Often, the teeth hiding in the back of the mouth are more severely affected. The result is loose, painful teeth. At advanced stages pets may develop tooth root abscesses and become at risk for jaw fracture. An illustrated guide to the stages of periodontal disease can be found here.

Signs that your pet may be suffering from dental disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty eating, dropping food
  • Reluctance to eat, especially hard foods
  • Excessive drooling
  • Swelling/redness of gums
  • Teeth that appear to be discolored or covered with tartar
  • Rubbing the face on carpets and furniture
  • A swelling or wound in the mouth or on the face above or below the mouth


Dental Month Info

In addition to the signs above, you may notice indicators that your pet is experiencing oral pain such as behavior changes, only using one side of the mouth the chew, and flinching or pulling away if you try to look at their mouth.

Daily tooth brushing is the cornerstone of periodontal disease prevention. Be sure to only use toothpastes made specifically for pets. Human toothpaste contains fluoride which can be toxic in large amounts. Your veterinarian can provide you with instruction on proper tooth brushing for your pet and helpful tips. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend a dental procedure under general anesthesia to thoroughly evaluate and clean the teeth, and treat or extract any damaged or infected teeth if needed. The goal of every dental procedure is to help preserve healthy teeth and eliminate pain and infection if diseased teeth are present.

Watch this video to learn more about periodontal disease in pets and how you and your veterinarian can partner to maximize your pet’s oral health.