The Truth About Teeth

Dental disease in pets is a very common problem – with 80% of dogs and 70% of cats showing signs of oral disease by the age of three.  But just as with humans, regular oral care is the key to achieving a healthy mouth.

Q. What causes dental problems?

Just like us, pets can get a build-up of plaque.  If the plaque isn’t removed, it shows up as brown or yellow staining.  This will often develop into gingivitis and periodontal disease, which is inflammation of the gyms that extends to the bone surrounding the teeth.

Most of us know how miserable it feels to have a sore tooth or mouth – and it’s the same for our pets.  If left untreated, dental disease can cause tooth loss and lead to other more serious problems.  Bacteria may enter the blood stream from the gums, and cause damage to internal organs such as the heart or liver.

What are the signs to watch for?

As part of your home care routine, you can check for signs of dental disease.  Signs your pet may be experiencing tooth trouble can include: bad breath, difficulty eating/going off their food, chewing on one side of the mouth, pawing at their mouth, increased drooling – or red and swollen gums.  If you notice any of these, tell your Pet Doctors team (but also be aware you may not notice any symptoms, as animals are good at hiding their pain).

Q. How often should my pet see the dentist?

We recommend a dental check-up every six months.  Your veterinarian will check will check your pet’s teeth as part of their annual wellness/vaccination visit.  You can also book in for a dental check at any time.

Even if you dread the dentist, we promise it will be stress-free for your pet!  A dental check simply involves gently lifting their lips to check the condition of their teeth and gums.

Q. What does a dental procedure involve?

To keep your pet’s teeth as healthy as possible, we recommend a routine scale and polish to remove the plaque and tartar.  This is a simple, pain-free procedure performed under general anaesthetic.

If your pet needs more advanced dental care, including extraction, we can explain exactly what’s involved in each case.

Q. What about dental care at home?

Dental care at home is very important.  There is a lot you can do to help prevent the plaque and tartar from building up over time.


Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth is the very best thing you can do to keep their teeth clean.  There are special toothpastes designed for animals and tasty toothpastes to help encourage your pet’s cooperation! Ask your local vets to demonstrate the brushing technique (it’s important to know you should never use human toothpaste on your pets).


Aquadent is a mouthwash that’s suitable for dogs.  Depending on the size of your pet and how much they drink daily, you can just add it to their water bowl.  It helps improve bad breath and maintain healthy gums.

Dental chews & toys

This is the fun part of dental care! Ask your vets to recommend the best brands of dental chews and toys, also there are some great toys from Animates!