Pet Dental Hygiene

Keeping your pet’s teeth clean – even between dental check-ups at the vet – is important for more than just fresh breath and a winning smile. You can help prevent periodontal (gum) disease, and even potentially prevent a bacterial infection from reaching your pet’s kidneys, liver, heart or brain!

Get to the Vet!
First, make an appointment with your veterinarian for a dental exam. Remember, if your vet suggests a cleaning, it should take place in a vet’s office under their supervision. Make sure to take your pet to the veterinary office at least once a year for an annual check-up, which will include a dental exam and recommendations for further care or treatment if necessary.

Oral Disease
Like people, pets have bacteria in their mouths that can get into the bloodstream and infuse different organs, causing infections. Organs most often affected by oral diseases are the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver, and nervous system. Most dogs and cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three. Signs of dental disease are include the following (please call your vet ASAP if you notice these symptoms).

  • Bad breath
  • Loose or discolored teeth
  • Teeth covered in tartar
  • Discomfort
  • Drooling
  • Bleeding
  • Loss of appetite or loss of weight

Brushing your pets’ teeth regularly is important and can prevent costly vet bills. You can do it yourself with toothbrush and toothpaste specifically made for animals.

  • Examine the animal’s mouth for discolored or broken teeth, masses, ulcerations and/or abscesses.
  • Make sure your pet is comfortable, put a little toothpaste on your finger for your pet to smell and lick.
  • Put a little paste on the brush, and move in small circles, across the gum line.
  • A little bleeding is ok, but if it’s chronic, see a vet.
  • End each session with positive reinforcement (treat).

You can also have a professional brush your pet’s teeth.

Chewing is good for many behavioral reasons, but it also aids in pet dental health. Products are available for purchase at the spcaLA Marketplace, where all the profits benefit shelter pets!

Please note, articles in the Animal Resource Library are for reference only, and are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical or behavioral issues your pet may be experiencing.