Billy Morgan

Dental Care for Pets: Importance of brushing and vet checkups

  • General
  • Posted 3 weeks ago

Our furry companions bring endless joy into our lives, showering us with unconditional love and playful antics. But just like us, their health needs regular attention, and that includes their pearly whites! Dental care for pets in Canada is often overlooked, but it’s crucial for their overall well-being.

This blog delves into the importance of dental hygiene for your pet, focusing on two key practices: regular brushing and annual vet checkups. By incorporating these simple yet effective measures, you can ensure your pet maintains a healthy mouth, fresh breath, and a pain-free life.

The Importance of Dental Care for Pets

The Importance of Dental Care for Pets in Canada

Did you know that according to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of three suffer from some form of periodontal disease? This gum disease, caused by plaque buildup, can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. These include:

  • Pain and discomfort: Imagine the agony of a sore tooth. Plaque buildup irritates gums and damages teeth, causing your pet significant pain.
  • Tooth loss: Untreated periodontal disease weakens the jawbone, leading to tooth loss. Not only does this affect your pet’s ability to chew comfortably, but it can also impact their overall nutrition.
  • Bacterial infections: Bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream through inflamed gums, potentially leading to infections in the heart, liver, and kidneys.

How To Start Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

The good news is that you can significantly reduce your pet’s risk of dental disease by establishing a regular brushing routine. While it might sound daunting, with patience and the right tools, brushing your pet’s teeth can become a positive bonding experience.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Pet-friendly toothpaste: Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can be harmful to pets. Look for a toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs or cats, often available in poultry or seafood flavors to entice your pet.
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush: A small, soft-bristled brush designed for pets is ideal. You can also use a finger brush for smaller animals.
  • Positive reinforcement: Make brushing a positive experience. Start by gently introducing your pet to the toothpaste and toothbrush. Gradually increase the brushing time, rewarding your pet with praise and treats throughout the process.

Brushing Tips for Different Pets:

  • Dogs: Most dogs are receptive to brushing with some patience and training. Lift their lip gently and brush the outside surfaces of their teeth in a circular motion.
  • Cats: Cats can be more challenging, but early introduction is key. Focus on short brushing sessions initially, rewarding them for their cooperation.

Remember: Consistency is key! Brushing your pet’s teeth daily or at least every other day is ideal for optimal results.

Annual Vet Checkups: Early Detection and Professional Cleaning

Regular vet checkups are an essential part of your pet’s dental health care plan. During these visits, your veterinarian will perform a thorough oral examination, checking for signs of plaque buildup, tartar (hardened plaque), gingivitis (gum inflammation), and periodontal disease.

Benefits of Annual Vet Checkups

Benefits of Annual Vet Checkups:
  • Early detection and treatment: Early intervention for dental problems can prevent them from progressing and becoming more expensive to treat.
  • Professional cleaning: If your pet has significant plaque or tartar buildup, a professional dental cleaning under anesthesia may be necessary. This procedure removes tartar and bacteria from below the gum line, which is impossible to reach with brushing alone.
  • Overall health assessment: Your veterinarian can also identify potential health issues associated with dental problems, allowing for prompt treatment.

Finding the Right Veterinarian for Your Pet’s Dental Needs

When choosing a veterinarian in Canada, inquire about their dental care services. Look for a clinic equipped with the latest dental equipment and experienced in performing dental procedures on pets.

Invest in Your Pet’s Smile: The Cost of Dental Care

While the upfront cost of dental care products and vet checkups might seem like an expense, it pales in comparison to the cost of treating advanced dental problems later on. Regular dental care can not only save you money in the long run but more importantly, it can prevent your pet from experiencing pain and discomfort.

A Look at Dental Treats and Chews

While brushing is the gold standard for pet dental care, some pets might resist this practice. Here’s where dental treats and chews come in as fantastic alternatives or supplements to brushing. Look for products that boast the following features:

  • Veterinary Dental Council (VOHC) Seal: The VOHC is an independent organization that evaluates pet dental products for their effectiveness in reducing plaque and tartar buildup. Look for the VOHC seal when choosing dental treats or chews for your pet.
  • Abrasive Texture: Dental treats and chews should have a rough texture that helps scrape away plaque as your pet chews.
  • Long-lasting Chew Time: Longer chew times allow for extended plaque-fighting action.

Popular Dental Treat and Chew Options in Canada

  • Dental Kibble: Many pet food companies offer kibble formulated specifically for dental health. These kibble pieces have a unique texture that helps remove plaque as your pet eats.
  • Rawhides: Rawhides offer a natural chewing experience that helps clean teeth. However, choose thick, long-lasting rawhides to prevent choking hazards. Avoid rawhides treated with chemicals or artificial flavors.
  • Dental Chews: These come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors, all designed to promote chewing and plaque removal. Look for options made from natural ingredients and avoid those containing excessive sugar or artificial additives.

Dental Toys: Fun and Functional

Dental toys offer another engaging way to promote your pets dental care. These toys are typically made from durable rubber or nylon and have ridges or textures designed to scrape away plaque as your pet chews. They provide mental stimulation while promoting oral hygiene.

Considerations When Choosing Dental Toys

  • Size and Strength: Choose a toy that’s appropriate for your pet’s size and chewing strength. A toy that’s too small could be a choking hazard, while a toy that’s too soft won’t be effective in removing plaque.
  • Durability: Look for a toy that can withstand your pet’s chewing prowess. Avoid flimsy toys that could break easily and pose a choking hazard.
  • Supervision: Always supervise your pet when playing with dental toys.

Dental Water Additives: A Convenient Option

Dental Water Additives: A Convenient Option

Dental water additives are a convenient way to support your pets dental care, especially for those who dislike brushing. These additives are typically added to your pet’s water bowl and contain enzymes or other ingredients that help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.

Things to Consider When Using Dental Water Additives:

  • Effectiveness: Dental water additives may not be as effective as brushing, but they can be a helpful supplement, especially for cats who dislike having their teeth brushed.
  • Taste: Choose a water additive with a flavor your pet enjoys to ensure they continue to drink from their water bowl.
  • Veterinarian Consultation: Consult your veterinarian before using a dental water additive, especially if your pet has any underlying health conditions.

Dental Diets: Food for Thought

Some pet food companies offer dental diets formulated to promote oral health. These diets typically contain kibble with a special texture that helps scrape away plaque as your pet chews. They may also contain ingredients that help freshen breath.

Considerations When Choosing a Dental Diet:

  • Talk to Your Veterinarian: Discuss your pet’s individual needs with your veterinarian before switching them to a dental diet.
  • Nutritional Needs: Ensure the dental diet meets your pet’s overall nutritional requirements.
  • Taste Preference: Choose a dental diet your pet enjoys eating to ensure they maintain a healthy appetite.

How to Ensure Fresh Breathe of Your Pet

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be a sign of dental problems in pets. In addition to implementing a proper dental hygiene routine, several products can help combat bad breath in pets:

  • Dental Sprays: These sprays often contain breath-freshening ingredients like mint or chlorophyll. They can be sprayed directly onto your pet’s mouth or onto their food.
  • Dental Wipes: These wipes are pre-moistened with a solution that helps remove plaque and freshen breath. They can be used to wipe your pet’s teeth and gums.

Read Also: Benefits of Buying from Local Pet Stores in Canada


By incorporating a combination of regular home brushing and annual vet checkups, you can ensure your pet maintains healthy teeth and gums. Remember, a healthy mouth contributes to your pet’s overall well-being, allowing them to live a long, happy, and pain-free life.

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