Dental Care For Dogs & Cats

Author: Danielle Fletcher
Published: Monday 23rd September 2013
Updated: Friday 11th February 2022

There is a wide range of products designed to brighten our smiles, keep our breath fresh and our mouths “attractive”. For most of us, an undisputed part of our daily routine is brushing our teeth and when we miss it out on just one occasion we really notice it. So why should our pets' teeth be ignored?

A mouth is a perfect home for bacteria and they thrive in the warm, moist and nutrient-rich environment provided. Plaque forms as a soft, slimy film on the surface of teeth when food particles and bacteria stick to the surface along with other substances. Tartar results when plaque is not successfully removed and a hardened yellow-brown deposit is formed.

What Can It Lead To if Ignored?

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and can be reversed. Bacteria are attracted to the plaque and growing tartar build-up on the teeth both above and below the gum line. They produce toxins, irritate the delicate gum tissue and cause infection. Symptoms are swollen, red gums that also bleed easily and may produce pus when touched.

Periodontitis is the irreversible result of untreated gingivitis and affects the entire area around the tooth surface, including the special connective tissue and substance that hold teeth in place. The gums start to recede from teeth and holes called “pockets” form where food debris becomes trapped. Plaque and tartar spread beneath the gum line and ultimately, the resulting infections erode away the supporting structures and teeth are lost or have to be removed.

Advanced periodontitis may affect internal organs such as the liver, kidneys and heart. Bacteria enter the bloodstream from lesions in the mouth and are carried around the body. There is also evidence to support that diabetic pets are more likely to develop gum disease and this, in turn, can affect control of blood sugar levels.

Symptoms to watch out for:

  • persistent bad breath

  • yellow-brown build up on teeth, especially near the gums

  • reddened, swollen or bleeding gums

  • excessive drooling

  • loss of appetite and weight loss

  • loose teeth

Some pets will only show pain when the situation has gone too far, so it is best to start their dental routine today and keep on top of it from the start- it will save you money and your pet a lot of unnecessary pain!

So, how do we prevent these problems?

Like us, the most effective preventative is brushing!

Using flavoured enzymatic (not fluoride as this will be swallowed) toothpaste such as Logic Oral Hygiene Gel and a soft-bristled toothbrush, ideally once a day but 3-4 times a week will help reduce plaque and prevent tartar formation. You only need to brush the outside of the teeth, as the tongue cleans the inside. Starting from the back, the brush should be used at a 45° angle and in a circular motion, focusing on the area where the teeth meet the gums.

It is best to introduce brushing slowly, the earlier the better. Use your fingers to check your pet's teeth and gums first, until they are happy to let you run your fingers over them. Then you can introduce the toothpaste- let them lick it off of your finger first and then you can try rubbing it into their teeth.

Introducing a toothbrush may be slightly more difficult but Logic Oral Hygiene Gel comes with a very soft finger brush which is more easily accepted. If your pet really won't accept brushing, most gels and toothpastes will still be beneficial if licked from a paw or your finger.

Cats may need more tailored support when it comes to keeping their teeth and mouths clean, and we've put together some information on how this can be achieved with the help of our OraFresh range. You can read the full article here.

Dental diet

Dogs and cats evolved as carnivores and in the wild, very little of their prey goes to waste after all the effort of catching it. Feathers and bones provide abrasive surfaces to naturally clean teeth and strengthen teeth and keep gums healthy.

There are huge ranges of foods designed to meet every possible dietary need but very few can come close to providing the correct textures to ensure good dental health. Diets such as Hills T/D have a unique fibre alignment to prevent kibble from shattering early, so teeth sink in further, allowing the fibres to rub on more of the surfaces. They also contain adjusted levels of other ingredients to lower the formation of plaque and mineralisation to tartar. You should ask your vet if a dental diet is suitable for your pet before swapping them onto it.

Dental chews & toys

Chewing and gnawing mechanically cleans teeth and promotes healthy gums. Chews such as the Logic Prozym range and Plaque Off Dental Bites for Dogs & Cats are very palatable and contain an enzyme that prevents bacterial growth and plaque formation. They can be given every day as part of a home dental regime.

Dental Toys such as those in the Kong Dental range are durable and they have grooves and bumps where pastes can be hidden when used in conjunction with flavoured toothpaste or dental treats. They provide another way of exercising your dog's teeth and gums while keeping them entertained for longer. Dogs also love a good game of tug-of-war and rope toys are ideal, plus they have the perfect texture for getting between teeth and scraping off plaque.

Food & water additives

Some products can be added to food and consumed as part of your pet's normal meals. Plaque Off contains a type of seaweed that dentists discovered to have antibacterial properties and has now been formulated into both top-selling human and pet products. Water additives such as Tropiclean are also popular with pet owners who struggle to brush their pet's teeth in between checkups with the vet or dental hygienist.

Try VioVet's own brand oral care

The OraFresh range by VioVet is an effective and value consious range of products to help both dogs and cats. Combining carefully selected ingredients to support and maintain the health of teeth and gums, our range is both palatable and effective. Our OraFresh™ Dental Granules can be mixed into food, while our OraFresh™ Oral Care Solution just needs adding to water. Our OraFresh™ Oral Hygiene Paste can also be used without brushing, for hassle-free expert cleaning!

Ask your vet!

If you are at all concerned about your pet or are unsure what you need to look for, take your pet to the vet for a thorough oral examination and they will advise you accordingly.

Want to Read More?

Check out our cat specific blog post here!

Or if you are a dog owner and want to read more check out our blog post here!