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Dog & cat teeth cleaning: 11 FAQs answered

Dog & cat teeth cleaning: 11 FAQs answered

August is Pet Dental Health Month, and we at Pet Chemist couldn’t be more excited to delve into an issue close to our hearts (and our pets’ mouths): dental care and teeth cleaning for dogs and cats.

When it comes to your pets’ oral health, being proactive can save you a lot of trouble down the road, not to mention a few trips to the vet. But what exactly does this entail? To answer some of the most pressing questions, we’ve come up with a handy Q&A session. Let’s dive in!

1. Dog teeth cleaning, why is it important?

Oral health is more than just about a pearly white smile; it’s integral to your pet’s overall health and well-being. Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, jaw fracturescavities, and even more severe health issues like heart disease.

It’s easy to dismiss dental care as solely preventing bad breath or tooth decay, but the truth is much more complex and far-reaching. Your pet’s dental health impacts their overall well-being in surprising ways.

Research reveals how the microbiome in the mouth is directly connected to gut health. Given that the gut is essentially the cornerstone of a pet’s immune system, poor oral hygiene can have cascading effects on overall health.

Beyond gut health, poor dental hygiene can have systemic repercussions. According to Dr Antonson’s study, there is a direct link between Periodontal Disease (PD) and various severe health conditions in dogs. These include systemic inflammatory responses, liver disease, various forms of kidney disease, including chronic kidney disease (CKD), and diabetes. 

These findings aren’t just academic; they have practical implications for every pet owner. A simple act like brushing your pet’s teeth or giving them a dental chew can be a line of defence against these serious conditions.

Your pet’s dental health impacts their overall well-being in surprising ways.

2. Is dental hygiene the most neglected part of pet care?

Sadly, despite how vital dog and cat teeth cleaning is, a shocking number of pet parents neglect it.

According to a report by Australian Animal Oral Care, over 80% of dogs show signs of dental disease by the age of 3, making it essential to start early with dental care routines. According to PerthNow, 1 in 4 Australian owners admit to never cleaning their dogs’ teeth.

This is better than Canadians, where in another recent study only 8% of dog owners and a mere 4% of cat owners brush their pets’ teeth daily. This statistic underscores the need for greater awareness and action regarding pet dental care.

Indeed, the state of dental health among Australian pets is quite concerning, and it’s essential to share this information to raise awareness among pet owners.

3. What is the state of dental health among Australian pets?

According to the RSPCA, dental disease is rampant among pets in Australia. A staggering 70% of cats and 80% of dogs are affected by some form of dental disease by the time they reach three years of age. These statistics serve as a wake-up call for pet owners, emphasizing the importance of proactive dental care from a young age.

The financial cost of neglecting dental care in pets

Beyond the health implications, neglecting your pet’s dental care can also be quite expensive. Sydney Pet Dentistry provides a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with various dental procedures:

  • Adult Canines (Dogs, one or both lower): $1,600 – $2,000
  • Full Mouth Extraction (Cat): Approximately $3,000 – $4,500
  • Full Mouth Extraction (Dog): Approximately $3,000 – $5,500 or more
  • Cat Canine: $2,100 – $2,200 ($1,000 for each additional tooth in the same procedure)
  • Dog Canine: $2,200 – $2,400 ($1,000 – $1,200 for each additional tooth in the same procedure)
  • Dog Carnassial: $2,800 – $3,000 ($1,700 for each additional tooth in the same procedure)

These figures make it clear that preventative dental care is essential for your pet’s health and your wallet.

4. At what age do you have to start cleaning a pet’s teeth?

It’s never too early to start! Puppies and kittens should be introduced to oral health routines as young as 8-12 weeks old. This early introduction not only eases them into the process but also ensures they become accustomed to regular teeth cleanings. Check out this article to learn more about the developmental stages of your pet’s teeth.

5. What products are best to help clean a pet’s teeth and keep their gums in good shape?

Taking care of your pet’s dental health is crucial, but we understand that daily brushing might not be feasible for everyone. The good news is that there are various products available to help you maintain your pet’s oral hygiene. Here are some excellent options from Pet Chemist:

1. OraVet Dental Chews for Small Dogs

These dental chews are perfect for small dogs weighing between 4.5 to 11 kg. They not only freshen your dog’s breath but also act as a barrier to plaque, tartar, and bacteria. Give your dog one chew per day for best results.

2. Petosan Chicken Toothpaste

If you’re going to brush your pet’s teeth, why not make it a pleasant experience for them? This chicken-flavored toothpaste can make the oral care routine much more enjoyable for both you and your pet. Use this with a suitable toothbrush, brushing in small circles covering all areas.

3. Troy Plaque Off Dental Powder for Dogs

This powder can be easily sprinkled onto your dog’s food. It’s a simple way to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, and it’s particularly useful for dogs who refuse to have their teeth brushed.

4. TropiClean Fresh Breath Oral Care Water Additive

If your pets are averse to brushing, this water additive can be a lifesaver. Just add it to your pet’s water bowl to provide 12 hours of fresh breath and promote healthier gums.

5. WAG Kangaroo Tendons Dog Treats

Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, and these kangaroo tendons not only satisfy that instinct but also help to clean the teeth. They are all-natural and free from artificial preservatives.

6. DentiPet Finger Toothbrush

If you’re new to brushing your pet’s teeth, a finger toothbrush can make the process easier. It slips onto your finger, giving you better control as you brush.

7. Whimzees Natural Daily Dental Treats Toothbrush

These dental treats are shaped like toothbrushes and are designed to remove plaque and tartar as your dog chews. They are made from natural ingredients and come in various sizes.

Remember, these products are meant to complement, not replace, regular veterinary care. Always consult your vet before starting any new dental care routine for your pet.

By incorporating one or more of these products into your pet’s oral care routine, you can take a big step toward ensuring their long-term health and happiness.

6. How do you properly clean your cat or dog’s teeth?

Proper cleaning involves more than just scrubbing away visible dirt. Use a pet-safe toothbrush and toothpaste designed specifically for dogs and cats. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can be toxic to pets.

Check out this guide for how to properly clean your cat’s teeth and a dog’s teeth.

7. How often should you clean your pet’s teeth?

Daily brushing is ideal, but we understand that it’s not always possible. Aim for at least three times a week. You can supplement this with dental treats and chew toys that help in cleaning the teeth, like the ones found in our Pet Chemist Dental Care Section.

8. What pet breeds are most prone to dental issues?

While dental issues can occur in any breed of dog or cat, some breeds are more predisposed to dental problems than others. Knowing if your pet falls into this category can help you take proactive steps to manage their dental health.

Dogs

  1. Small Breeds: Dogs like Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, and Toy Poodles often have crowded teeth, making them more prone to plaque and tartar buildup.
  2. Brachycephalic Breeds: Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus have compressed faces, which can lead to misaligned teeth and, consequently, dental issues.
  3. Greyhounds: Surprisingly, Greyhounds are more likely to experience gum disease than other breeds.
  4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: This breed is known for having dental issues, including early tooth loss and gum disease.

Cats

  1. Persians and Exotics: These cats have a similar facial structure to brachycephalic dogs, which makes them prone to dental issues due to crowded teeth.
  2. Maine Coons: These cats are known for experiencing gingivitis, possibly due to their genetic makeup.
  3. Siamese: Older Siamese cats have been observed to be more prone to dental issues, particularly periodontal disease.
  4. British Shorthairs: Another breed that tends to have dental issues, particularly gum problems.
  5. Sphynx and other Hairless cats: Unlike their furry counterparts, hairless cats don’t engage in as much self-grooming. Grooming is an action that naturally helps to clean a cat’s teeth. Without this natural cleaning process, hairless breeds may require more frequent dental care to maintain good oral health.

Knowing your pet’s breed-specific risks can help you make informed decisions about their dental care routine. Consult your vet for tailored advice, especially if your pet belongs to one of these breeds.

9. Any tips for a dog or cat owner to help make teeth cleaning easy?

  1. Choose the Right Supplies: Make sure to use pet-friendly toothpaste and a suitable toothbrush or finger brush designed for dogs or cats. For cats, also consider getting some catnip.
  2. Timing and Location Matter: Always choose a quiet, comfortable spot and a time when your pet is calm. For dogs, this may be after a walk. For cats, it may be after a nap.
  3. Introduce the Tools: Let your dog or cat sniff the toothpaste and toothbrush before diving in. You want them to associate these items with a non-threatening experience.
  4. Use Catnip for Cats: If your cat is a bit skittish, use some catnip to help them relax before you start cleaning.
  5. Positive Reinforcement for Dogs: Use treats or toys to reward your dog when they allow you to touch their teeth and gums. This will make them more cooperative in the long run.
  6. Start Slowly: Don’t aim to clean all teeth in one go. Start with a few front teeth and use gentle, circular motions. Slowly work your way to the back teeth over multiple sessions.
  7. Mind the Gums: The gum line is where bacteria and plaque love to hide. Make sure to gently brush this area, but avoid pressing too hard, which could cause discomfort.
  8. Consistency is Key: Aim to clean your pet’s teeth daily, but if that’s not possible, make it at least 3-4 times a week.
  9. Regularly Check for Dental Issues: Always keep an eye out for red or swollen gums, bad breath, or any sign of discomfort and consult your vet if needed.
  10. Schedule Vet Visits: Your vet should also regularly check your pet’s teeth. They can catch issues that you may have missed and can perform deep cleanings if needed.

10. What to do if your pet refuses!? Can you outsource dog & cat dental care to a vet or groomer?

Absolutely, dental cleanings can be performed by your local vet or specialised pet groomers. Many pet owners opt for professional dental cleanings once or twice a year, especially if their pets are particularly uncooperative at home.

11. How to tell if your pet is showing signs of dental issues?

Some common signs include bad breath, drooling, difficulty eating, and discoloured teeth. For more details, you might find this resource helpful.

Final thoughts

Dental health is an often overlooked yet crucial aspect of your pet’s overall well-being. Proactive dental care goes a long way from preventing painful conditions to avoiding costly medical procedures. Whether you have a Chihuahua prone to tartar buildup or a Maine Coon with a higher risk of gingivitis, understanding your pet’s specific needs is essential, since dental care is far reaching, touching everything from gut health to the heart, liver, and kidneys.

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