The Importance of Pet Dental Health

Caring for your dog and cat's oral and dental health through regular home and veterinary care improve the quality and longevity of your pets life.

The Importance of Pet Dental Health

Feb 6, 2017

The Importance of Pet Dental Health

February is Pet Dental Health Month. Pet oral health is possibly the most overlooked of pet parent responsibilities. Humans are told to brush and floss twice a day to avoid cavities and gum disease. Our diets are much more diverse and include a lot more sugar, so the recommendations aren’t quite so extensive for pets. Nonetheless, Pet Dental Health is important to ensure a long, healthy, happy life for your fur babies.

The concerns for pets are similar to humans. Pets are at risk for cavities (tooth decay), tooth and gum bacterial infections, and other diseases that affect the mouth. Left unchecked, these can also lead to more serious health problems such as heart, lung, and kidney disease.

cat pet dental care run those dogs

Another name for the bacterial infections that effect the gums is periodontal disease. Without proper care, it can take hold in progressive stages. Many pets can avoid this problem through a controlled, healthy diet and typical chewing. But pets with compromised immune systems, genetic predispositions, or who are living in poor conditions or with poor nutrition can be more susceptible to the disease.

General Recommendations

It is generally agreed that your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian. They will check for early signs of a problem, make recommendations, and keep your pet’s mouth healthy.


Pets have evolved to not need much dental care, but we have tipped the scales by providing them a lifestyle that alters their experience away from the wilds. To make up for those shifts, there are a few simple things we can do at home to promote oral health.


Home Dental Care

For almost no cost, you can gently brush your pets teeth. Use a human tooth brush or wrap your finger in gauze and hold it at a 45-degree angle to the teeth. Using small, circular motions, work in one area of the mouth at a time. The most tartar builds up on the tooth surfaces that touch the cheek, concentrate there and finish up with a downward stroke on the teeth to remove tartar.nylabone run those dogs pet dental care


Dental Care Products

Provide chew toys that help massage your pet’s gums and keep their teeth clean. Run Those Dogs likes Nylabone. One bone can keep your dog busy for hours. With lots of choices and sizes, you’re sure to find the right one for your dog. Another option is a frozen marrow bone. Also known as a soup bone, this old school treat is so good for a dog’s teeth. Be educated when choosing. Cooked bones can splinter, or others are not good for your dog. Most grocery stores have frozen marrow bones for a fraction of the cost that you would pay at the pet health food stores. If you don’t see them in the frozen meat section then you can ask the butcher of your local grocery store. They’ll often cut some special for you when they know it’s for your dog.


There are also a number of products on the market to aid in cat and dog home dental care. Do your research to decide which is right for your budget, pet, and practicality. Here’s an overview by the American Veterinary Dental College for cats and for dogs.


Veterinary Dental Cleanings

Because of the anesthetic risks and costs, there is disagreement about how often pets should be put under general anesthesia for cleanings and more thorough check ups. The American Animal Hospital Association has published Dental Care Guidelines for Cats and Dogs. You can get more information from the American Veterinary Medical Association to help you decide on a plan that’s right for you and your pets.

dog, run-those-dogs, pet-dental-care

Dental health can improve the length and quality of your pet’s life.

Signs That Your Pet Might Need a Check Up

Pets’ breath isn’t normally great smelling, but if it becomes particularly offensive, it could be a sign of a serious oral problem. Be on the look out for these other signs that warrant a trip to the veterinarian:

  • bad breath
  • broken or loose teeth
  • extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
  • abnormal chewing, excessive drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
  • reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • pain in or around the mouth
  • bleeding from the mouth
  • swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
  • tumors on the gums
  • cysts beneath the tongue

Try to choose a plan your pet will tolerate and that has the best chance for you to follow through. Some effort on your part is better than none at all. Try not to give up. It may take several attempts on your part before your pet gets used to something new. You might also need to try more than one approach before you find the one that’s right for your family.

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