Does your dog suffer from bad breath? Did the vet mention that your dog or cat was showing signs of plaque on their teeth?  Worse still, have you had to fork out hundreds for a dose of pet dental cleaning at the vets?

Dental disease is a big deal for our pets.  Periodontal (gum) disease is the number one diagnosed problem in dogs and cats.  By the age of just two, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease.  Periodontal inflammation and infection has also been linked to other more serious problems so pet dental care is a priority for us and our pets.

August is pet dental month.  This year the Australian Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) are promoting the three ‘D’s’ for pet oral health. These are:

  • Dental check up for your pet
  • Daily tooth brushing
  • Dental friendly diet.

Dental Check Ups

Dental CleaningAnnual dental checks are a must – and August being pet dental month is a good time to go.  You vet will perform a thorough oral examination of teeth and gums.

Bad breath can be an early warning sign of gum disease.  Other symptoms include yellow and brown build up of tartar along the gumline and inflamed gums.  Other things to watch out for include a change in eating or chewing habits, broken or worn teeth, and discolouration.  If you notice bad breath or see blood on toys then a dental check-up at the vets is most likely required.

Daily Tooth Brushing

Giving your pets teeth a daily brush is the 'gold standard' of home tooth care.  Whilst daily is ideal, it's not always going to be practical.  For a tooth brushing regime to be effective though,it is recommended that it be performed at east three times a week.

You can buy special pet tooth brushes and toothpastes.  Do not use human toothpaste as it contains detergents that may cause stomach upset.  The pet tooth brushes are soft the head and bristle sizes are designed for your pets mouth.

To brush your pets teeth, go slowly and be very positive.  Use treats is necessary to make it a more pleasant experience.  The younger your pet the easier it may be – and for puppies and kittens you can introduce this routine from around 6 to 7 months old.

Dental Friendly Diet

Providing our pets with a dental friendly diet is something that we can all do.

Oral Care Dry FoodsRaw meaty bones are good “food tooth brushes”.  For cats and small dogs, chicken wings and chicken necks are good.  Larger turkey necks, meaty leg bones and roo tails are good for medium sized dogs and larger meaty bones and briskets for larger dogs.

Dental Chews, treats and rawhides are also good chew options.  Giving your pet something to chew on every day is a good routine to get into (just be careful to watch the total food intake over the day to avoid weight problems).  Try tendons, whizzers and rawhide varieties as they are lower in fat.

You can also use a dental dry food to help with dental care.  Special oral/dental care dry food diets will have specific biscuit shapes, textures and consistency to help with dental care as your dog or cat chews.  You don’t have to feed these all of the time if you like your current variety of dry food – but swapping  your regular bag of dry food for a special oral care variety (such as Hills Science Diet Oral Care) from time to time can help.  If you’d prefer to move to an oral care food on a more regular basis too then that’s perfectly Ok as they are also complete diets for your pet.

Avoid feeding pets table scraps because they can increase the build up of plaque and tartar, and can lead to other health problems. 

The other ‘D’ we can add to the three ‘D’s for this month is this one – “Do something everyday to help with your pets dental health.”