5 Dental Care Products For Cats and Dogs

5 Dental Care Products For Cats and Dogs

You put a lot of thought into keeping your pet healthy; spending resources on quality food, routine check-ups and exercise. But have you given enough thought to your pet’s dental health? Dental hygiene is an often-overlooked but vital aspect in your pet’s overall health.

Dental hygiene is just as important for our pets as it is for us. Veterinarians report that over an estimated 80% of cats and dogs over the age of 3 suffer from some form of dental disease, a painful condition that can lead to tooth loss and infection, and even overall health issues. Therefore, it is very important to start a daily dental care regime in the home.

Regular care of your pet’s teeth will not only prevent problems from developing, but it will also keep your pet healthy and happy. Not only does poor dental hygiene have a massive impact on the health of your pet, it can also affect your pet’s behaviour. You should regularly and routinely check your pet’s teeth at home to make sure they are healthy.

Lift the lips and look for any signs of plaque, discolouration or reddening of the gums. Feel around for loose teeth or unusual lumps and bumps on and under the tongue, along the gum line and roof of the mouth. If you do this routinely, you will become sensitive to any changes that might occur from one inspection to the next.

Healthy teeth should be shiny and creamy white in colour, no rough patches. The gums should be pink and bad breath should be minimal. If your pet’s teeth are yellow at the gums, then it is clear they are suffering from plaque.

Plaque usually accumulates around the gums in a soft layer and is made up of bacteria, food and water that cling to the side of the teeth. If plaque is not removed, this can result in tartar, which is the calcification of plaque. It can be seen on teeth as hard brown accumulations normally beginning around the gum line.

Dental disease does not only affect your pet’s mouth. If left to develop, it can cause serious illnesses throughout the body involving the heart, kidneys and joints. Like regular grooming, dental care should be something your pet comes to expect everyday. To keep dental disease in check, use a combination of the following dental products:

1. Cat or dog toothpaste and toothbrush.

Dog with teeth being brushed

It is very important to use toothpaste and toothbrushes specifically designed for your cat or dog. DO NOT use regular human toothpaste for your pet. Most human toothpastes include fluoride, which is extremely poisonous to cats and dogs. Cat/dog toothpaste is safe to swallow while pet toothbrushes are soft and angled to assist in brushing the back teeth (and also come in a fingertip style).

Smearing toothpaste on the teeth is not enough; it is the act of brushing that removes the plaque. Brushing everyday is ideal. This will prevent the build up of plaque and formation of tartar. However, any brushing is better than none. A thorough tooth brushing, two to three times a week is enough to see an overall improvement in dental health of your cat or dog. The best time to brush your pet’s teeth is at night, after she has finished all her meals. Focus on the back teeth and the outsides of your pet's teeth, as that's where they are dirtiest. Always brush after meals.

2. Dental treats or chews.

Cat licking a treat on a wooden surface

Dental treats, chews, sticks and bones help to control and reduce plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth between teeth brushings. In addition to professional cleaning and regular tooth brushing, certain pet treats are also formulated to massage gums and freshen your pet’s breath. Hard chew toys (see below) may also help.

Dogs that chew actively have less plaque build-up. And some types of dental treats can reduce plaque by nearly 70%. Dental treats are a tasty way for you to sneak in some care for your pet’s teeth. The best dental chews, treats or sticks are specially formulated to help reduce plaque and tartar build up.

Moreover, many pet dental chews are fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, so you can feel good about giving your pet a treat they enjoy that is healthy for them.

 3. Chew toys.

Dog on grass chewing a stick

Although not edible, chew toys such as Kong® and Chuckit!® toys maybe a good choice to fight plaque and tartar buildup, especially for pets that chew through edible treats too quickly. Simply the mechanical action of chewing can make a difference.

Purchase a Chuckit!® toy for your dog. 

4. Water additive mouthwash. 

Dog drinking water from metal bowl on grass

Safe and effective, pet water additive mouthwashes are easy to use and safe to swallow, perfect for cats and dogs. Pet water additive mouthwashes can minimise bacteria, freshen breath and reduce plaque and tartar build up. This product is easier than brushing (but not a substitute), as you simply add to your pet’s water bowl.

Although pets can use mouthwash, it is crucial to note that only formulas made for pet use are safe and appropriate. Human mouthwashes are simply not designed for swallowing, and as a result are not suitable and safe for pets. Also, many human mouthwashes contain alcohol – a major no-no for pets.

5. Teeth gel. 

Cat yawning

Pet teeth gel cleans your pets’ teeth without brushing, reduces plaque and tartar and also helps to freshen breath. The gel is applied by smearing it directly onto the teeth. The tongue and lips will spread the gel around the mouth. This is the next best option for pets that completely detest teeth brushing.

When smearing the gel on your pet's teeth, focus on the back molars first. Especially with cats, this is where most of the dirt accumulates. Move to the pre-molars, canines, and then the incisors. With teeth gels, there is no need to brush your pet’s teeth as the product will work on contact with the teeth, just by mixing with your pet’s saliva to coat the teeth and gums.

However, it must be noted that brushing can accelerate the improvement in your pet’s dental care, and you can achieve faster results (removal of plaque and tartar) when you apply the gel and follow with brushing of your pet’s teeth. The gel softens plaque and tartar and brushing helps to remove it after it has been softened. It is best to apply teeth gel at night, after meals.

Purchase TropiClean Fresh Breath Clean Teeth Gel  for your pet.

Additional tips 

If your pet has a heavy tartar build up, it is best to use toothpaste or teeth gel twice daily after meals for the first two weeks. After one or two weeks, the inflammation in your pet’s mouth should subside, and your pet’s breath will be much improved. You can then use the toothpaste or gel once daily, preferably at night after meals so that it can work over night, to maintain your pet’s oral health (or withhold food and water for 30 minutes after brushing with toothpaste or applying the gel).

Generally after a month, you can reduce application of the gel and brushing with toothpaste to two to three times a week each to keep your pet’s teeth clean and breath smelling fresh. For cats that do not allow you anywhere near their teeth, you can put the gel on their paw, and they will naturally want to lick it off. For dogs that detest teeth brushing, you can use dental treats, chews, or bones.

If you observe any of the following signs, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible: Bad breath (especially if you notice a change), inflamed gums, excessive drooling, unusual lumps on the gums or under the tongue and loose or bleeding teeth.

Most pets take some time getting used to someone poking around in their mouth. Most owners need to warm up to the idea, too! Nearly any cat or dog, at any age, can learn to accept having their teeth brushed. Be sure to ease into it slowly and patiently, offer plenty of praise and reassurance, and be generous with healthy treats!

If you must use bones for your dog, supervise him/her. Cooked bones can splinter and inflict serious injury to your pet's trachea and gastrointestinal tract. If your dog has health issues, be sure to get your vet's "okay" before feeding raw bones. Always supervise your dog when feeding any type of bone.

Dental care can be a hassle for humans and pets, but proper care can be a money and lifesaver in the long run. Ignoring it can lead to costly and often painful vet visits down the road.

After all, if you won't do it for your pet, who will? Even if your pet is advanced in age and has a less-than-clean mouth, know that some dental care is better than no dental care. It is also important to schedule regular (at least annual or biannual) dental exams with your vet.

He or she will inform you of any existing or potential problems in your pet’s mouth and recommend professional teeth cleaning under anaesthesia if necessary. The key is to avoid this step, if at all possible, by practicing daily dental hygiene for your pet.

Sometimes, however, it’s not possible and cleaning your pet’s mouth professionally is critical to maintaining their overall health. If your vet recommends professional cleaning, do it, and vow to keep up with daily home dental care and hygiene with the dental care products listed above once your pet’s mouth has a clean slate and all plaque and tartar is removed.

Annual dental exams, starting at one year of age for cats and small-breed dogs, and two years of age for large-breed dogs, are recommended for all pets.

Information for this article was sourced from Beaphar.com and products.mercola.com.