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Dental Care Tips For Pets

Dental Care Tips For Pets

Dog showing teeth

Ever leaned in for a quick kiss on your dog or cat’s head and recoiled from the smell emanating from their mouth? If your pet is suffering from bad breath, this could be a key indicator that they’re suffering from poor dental health.

Because did you know that poor dental hygiene in cats and dogs can lead to more serious health problems, including painful gums and trouble eating?

It can even cause serious infections that are easily preventable, if you’re able to get on top of your pet’s dental hygiene.

Which is why in this blog, we'll share some essential dental care tips tailored specifically for your dog or cat. We'll cover how to spot signs of dental problems, tips on effective brushing techniques, and healthy food options to prevent periodontal disease and keep your pet's dental health in tip-top shape.

So, let's get to it and keep our cats and dogs healthy!

Spotting Existing Dental Issues For Your Dog or Cat

If you’ve ever owned a cat or a dog that has struggled with poor dental hygiene, you’ll know that it can seriously impact their quality of life and wellbeing.

Some of the known signs that your pet could be suffering from poor dental health include:

  • Bad Breath (usually the first sign of dental issues)
  • Tartar and Plaque Buildup, as well as Discoloured or Broken Teeth
  • Red or Swollen Gums, as well as Bleeding Gums
  • Difficulty Eating or Dropping Food (as this can be an indication or pain or discomfort in the mouth)
  • Pawing at the Mouth
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Loose or Missing Teeth
  • Weight Loss (often a result from their difficulty eating, which leads to a reduced food intake)
  • Facial Swelling (as this can indicate an infection or even a dental abscess)
  • Behavioural Changes (such as your dog or cat becoming more irritable, withdrawn or overall less active)

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's time to take action and prioritise your dog's or cat's dental health. Ignoring these signs can lead to more severe health problems down the road, so it's crucial to address them promptly.

However, with a few simple tricks, we can help maintain our four-legged friends’ teeth, and hopefully they will never have to experience any of the above symptoms in relation to their dental health at least.

Tips To Prevent Dental Disease For Your Pet

One of the best ways to care for your pet's teeth is to provide them with good dental hygiene. Brushing your dog's or cat's teeth daily can significantly lower the risk of dental issues.

Now, we know this isn't what every pet owner wants to hear, as it’s not always the easiest of tasks to undertake. But brushing your dog's or cat's teeth 3 to 4 times a week can seriously help prevent dental hygiene problems in the future.

You'll not only help to keep plaque and tartar at bay, but you’ll also help to keep their breath fresh too. And who doesn't want that - without the foul odour when they come to cuddle with you?

What You’ll Need to Brush Your Dog or Cat’s Teeth

Here’s the top equipment you’ll need to brush your pet’s teeth:

  • Cat or dog-friendly toothbrush (you may want to try a fingerbrush too)
  • Cat or dog-friendly toothpaste (please note: never use human toothpaste, as it's toxic to dogs and cats)

And then comes the fun part…

Cat getting it's teeth brushed

Teeth Brushing Techniques For Pets

Step One

Start by familiarising your dog or cat with putting something into their mouth and rubbing their teeth. You can begin by letting them taste the toothpaste and gently touching each tooth and gums with your finger.

Step Two

For the first few weeks, focus on getting your pet used to the taste of the toothpaste and the feel of the toothbrush in their mouth. Reward them with treats and praise to create a positive association with the brushing process.

Cat holding toothbrush, cleaning teeth

Step Three

After a couple of weeks, start massaging their gums and teeth with the toothbrush and a little bit of toothpaste, using a circular motion to help remove plaque and buildup. Be gentle and patient; some pets may take longer to adjust to the sensation.

Step Four

Be patient and consistent. Your dog or cat will get more comfortable with the process over time. If your pet shows resistance or aggression, stop the brushing session and try again later. Never force your pet to cooperate; this can create a negative experience and make future brushing sessions more challenging.

Top tip: Aim to brush your pet's teeth at least twice a week, but four times a week is even better.

Consistency is key to maintaining your pet's oral health. Your cat and dog's teeth will thank you!

Owner checking cat's teeth

Best Food Options to Support Dog and Cat Dental Health

What our dogs and cats eat can play an important role in their dental health, as feeding your pet the right food can support oral hygiene.

Here are some options that promote good dental health:

  • Raw food diet (like BARF - Biologically Appropriate Raw Food): Raw diets, which consist of uncooked meat, bones, and organs, can help maintain your pet's dental health by providing natural chewing and scraping action.
  • Seaweed products (such as Simply Seaweed or My Doggie Weed) will also help to prevent and remove plaque. At World 4 Pets, we often recommend this to pet parents as a step to take alongside raw feeding.
  • Meaty bones for dogs to chew on can help scrape away plaque and tartar: Chewing on raw bones can help remove plaque and tartar buildup, massage the gums, and provide mental stimulation for your dog. Always supervise your pet when giving them bones to prevent choking or tooth fractures.
  • Dental chews for dogs and cats that massage gums and remove plaque: Specially formulated dental chews can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, freshen their breath, and provide a tasty treat for your pet.
  • Avoid artificial preservatives and additives, as they can negatively impact dental health. Choose high-quality pet foods free from artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives, as these additives can contribute to dental and other health problems.
Fresh meat and bones collection at World 4 Pets

Professional Dog and Cat Dental Cleanings

While regular brushing and a healthy diet can go a long way in maintaining your dog's or cat's dental health, sometimes our furry friends need extra help from the vet. If you've been slacking on the brushing and notice some serious tartar buildup, it might be time for a professional dental cleaning.

But what happens during this treatment?

During this procedure, your pet will be put under general anaesthesia, similar to when we undergo more extensive dental treatments as humans. The vet will give their teeth and gums a thorough once-over, remove any pesky plaque and tartar, and take care of any other dental issues. They might even take some fancy X-rays to check out the health of the teeth below the gum line.

Now, we know what you're thinking: "That sounds expensive!" And you're right; it can be.

In Australia, veterinary dental cleanings for dogs and cats can range from $500 to $1,000. But here's the thing; you can avoid these costs by controlling your pet's dental care early. And if you're adopting a rescue pet with known dental problems, just be prepared for some potential veterinary expenses down the line.

German Shepherd getting it's teeth brushed

In Conclusion

It's vital us pet parents take care of our dogs' and cats' dental health. By brushing their teeth, giving them dental chews, and feeding them a nourishing, balanced diet, we can help keep those pearly whites shining and their breath fresh as a daisy.

A little prevention now saves us from a lot of trouble later, so choose to prioritise dental care for your four-legged best friend. Regular check-ups with our vets can also help catch any issues before they develop into more serious (and expensive) problems to treat.

Remember: a happy pet requires a healthy mouth, and together, we can make sure our dogs and cats keep grinning from ear to ear.

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