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Dog & Cat Dental Care
Just like us, our pets require routine dental care as part of their regular preventive care. At-home dental care is critical to prevent or slow down the development of dental disease. We will evaluate your pet’s teeth and gums at least once a year to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
Your pet's mouth should be examined earlier if you notice any of the following:
Broken or loose teeth
Retained baby teeth
Discolored teeth or teeth covered in tartar
Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
Pain, swelling or bleeding around the mouth
Dental disease can be painful, so you should always be careful when examining your pet’s mouth - because a painful animal may bite.
When your pet is evaluated at Oasis Animal Hospital, we might recommend a comprehensive dental assessment and treatment under anesthesia. Most adult pets require dental care under anesthesia every year, and sometimes more frequently. Click here to read more about comprehensive dental care at Oasis Animal Hospital.
NOTE: Anesthetized dentistry is necessary to effectively treat dental disease, and ‘anesthesia-free dentistry’ is not effective or recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council or Oasis Animal Hospital. Click here to learn more about the dangers of anesthesia-free dentistry.
Dental Hygiene Essentials
There are many things you can do at home to care for your pet's oral health. Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth is the single most important thing you can do at home to keep their mouth healthy. Regular brushing may even reduce the frequency of necessary professional dental cleanings.
Daily brushing is best, but brushing several times a week can still be helpful. Patience and training are important for successful introduction of teeth-brushing for both dogs and cats. Brushing your pet’s teeth takes about 30-60 seconds per day and prevents serious dental problems. Without teeth brushing, your pet’s teeth build up plaque that can turn into tartar within 24-48 hours. At that point, the tartar cannot be removed with a toothbrush. Plaque and tartar accumulation leads to gum disease, tooth decay and periodontal disease. Dental abscesses or periodontal disease may lead to infections in other parts of your pet’s body. Dental disease decreases your pet’s life expectancy and increases the chance of heart and kidney infections.
NOTE: Teeth brushing is NOT recommended for cats or dogs with advanced, painful dental disease. In these cases, professional dentistry is needed before teeth brushing should be started/resumed.
Starting to Brush Your Pet's Teeth
Remember that pets can be sensitive to examination or handling of their mouths. Be patient and gentle while introducing your pet to having their teeth brushed. Introduce the tasty pet-specific toothpaste first, keep it a positive experience. After your pet becomes comfortable with the paste, apply the toothpaste to your finger for your pet to lick. Allow your pet to become comfortable with this process, then, finally, introduce the toothbrush with the toothpaste. This process may take days to weeks to introduce gradually. When brushing, start with the back side of the mouth and advance toward the front. Make sure you brush below the gum line also.
Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles, such as a children's toothbrush or a pet toothbrush. The most important factor is to pick a toothbrush that you are comfortable using, and that isn't too big for your pet's mouth. Be sure to use pet-formulated toothpaste. Do not use human toothpastes or baking soda. Brush your dog's teeth at about the same time of the day, so that you create a habit. Take your dog for a walk or give them a treat after brushing, so that they feel rewarded.
Dental Food, Treats, and Toys
Although not as effective as brushing, chew treats and chew toys may also prevent dental problems. These chew treats and toys have the potential to help prevent the buildup of plaque or tartar by scraping off the deposits of food or plaque from the teeth. Many dogs like chew toys and adore treats, so use these in your dog's advantage. Treats and chew toys aren't a substitute for daily brushing, but can be a helpful addition.
Consider replacing your regular treats with dental treats, such as Purina dental chews, Greenies, or Virbac C.E.T. chews.
There are many pet products marketed with claims that they improve dental health, but not all of them are effective. Talk with your veterinarian about any dental products, treats, or dental-specific diets you’re considering for your pet, or ask your veterinarian for their recommendation. You may also refer to the Veterinary Oral Healthy Council’s list of accepted dental home care products for dogs and cats.
Routine Dental Cleanings and Treatment with Anesthesia
Although home dental care can help maintain your pet's oral health, dogs and cats require routine dental cleaning and treatment under anesthesia. Pets require general anesthesia for dental procedures in order to allow for a complete oral examination, to allow for proper scaling and polishing of the teeth, to protect their airway, and to prevent undue stress, pain, or injury to your pet. Click here to learn more comprehensive dental assessment and treatment under anesthesia at Oasis Animal Hospital.