The Importance of Dental Care for Cats and Dogs

​​​​​​​Taking care of our own teeth is second nature for us, but when was the last time that you thought about taking positive steps to look after the teeth of your pet? Many pet owners are often unaware that they have a responsibility to ensure their pet receives the necessary dental care that they need to have healthy, functioning teeth and enjoy overall wellbeing.

Why is pet dental care so important?

There are several reasons why it is just as important to take care of your pet’s teeth as your own. Firstly, your pet is heavily reliant on its teeth. Not only do they enable them to bite and chew their food, but in the absence of hands, they also use their teeth as tools to grasp objects, carry things, play games such as fetch and tug-of-war and if needed, use them as a line of defense if they become threatened.

Preventing your pet from suffering unnecessary pain and other debilitating symptoms is another reason why you should make dental care a priority. Most of us know how painful toothache is and wouldn’t wish it on our worst enemy, never mind our beloved pets. Dental problems can mean days, weeks or longer of unpleasant symptoms and treatment – which can also end up being time-consuming and costly.

Dental problems can also cause issues for your pet’s overall health and wellbeing. Failing to look after your pet’s teeth could cause them to develop periodontal disease – the most common dental issue affecting cats and dogs with one in three suffering from the condition before their third birthday. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition that occurs when plaque that builds on the teeth spreads onto the gum tissue, causing irritation and infection. If left untreated, a range of other unpleasant symptoms can occur, including pain, abscesses, bleeding, a foul taste in the mouth, tooth loss, and bone deterioration. If the bacteria enter the bloodstream, they can also travel around your pet’s body and affect their vital organs.

Ways you can support your pet’s dental health

Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to ensure that your pet’s teeth and oral health are in the best possible condition.

  • Brush your pet’s teeth regularly, daily if possible, using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Focus on cleaning the outer faces of your pet’s teeth since they are the easiest to tolerate.

  • Use a veterinary toothpaste, never a human version since these are toxic to animals.

  • Give your pet dental chews that contain ingredients that are beneficial to teeth. They also perform an abrasive action that helps to remove plaque from your pet’s teeth and gums.

  • Ensure that your pet drinks plenty of water as this helps to wash away bacteria and food debris before it can cause plaque and damage to their teeth.

  • Take your pet to see your veterinary dentist regularly so that their teeth can be closely monitored.

  • Ask your vet about annual professional dental cleanings.

If you would like any more information about the importance of dental care for cats and dogs, or to schedule an appointment with our experienced veterinary team, please contact our animal hospital today.