Does My Pet Need Dental Care?

A dog having its teeth cleaned at Sploot in Denver, CO

Does my pet need dental care?

Great question, pet parent! The short answer: YES! Your pet surely does need dental care, just like us. Dental care is a key component of your pet’s health. Healthy gums, digestion, kidney functioning, and even heart health can all start with a clean, healthy mouth. Have you ever asked yourself “Why is my cat’s breath so stinky” or “Why is my pup not eating normally?” or even “Why is my dog not acting himself?” All of these questions can lead back to proper dental health. Let’s dive in!

Why is pet dental care so important?

Pet’s need dental care because pets are extremely susceptible to periodontal disease and gingivitis. Plaque and tartar builds up on their teeth, and causes inflammation, infection, and decay, which can be extremely painful for your pet. If left untreated, bacteria and plaque build up will make its way into their bloodstream, and begin to affect major organ functioning. Their livers, kidneys, and even hearts can begin to suffer. With just a bit of attention, dental care can prevent immense pain, suffering, and expensive vet bills down the line.

What is pet dental care?

Now that you know WHY they need it, let’s continue with what it is! Dental care starts at home. We recommend DAILY brushing - that’s right, your pet’s teeth to be brushed just like we do. If daily is not feasible, we recommend at least 3 times a week. If your pet gives you a hard time with brushing, there are also oral rinses, wipes, and dental chews that can also help! Make sure to talk to your vet about the best way to keep up with their dental health at home!

Just like us, at home care does not completely take care of their gum and tooth health, especially when it isn’t consistent - don’t worry, we’ve been there, too. Our vets recommend annual dental cleaning and procedures at least once a year. During dental procedures, our team will remove built-up plaque, inspect for signs of disease, and remove loose teeth or teeth with cracks that may be causing pain, inflammation, or decay. No need to worry - our team at Sploot keeps you updated through the whole process! We will call midway to confirm your pet is doing well, inform you of what we see is necessary, and that we are all good to go.

Signs your pup may need to come in ASAP for a dental care:

  • Slowed or stopped eating habits
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Bad breath (and not just kibble breath, but more pungent odor)
  • Inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Discolored (yellow or brown) teeth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Irritability, “bad mood”, or even self-isolation. They may be in pain!

Tips & tricks to maintain a clean, healthy mouth:

  • Brush daily. Now, we know that seems like a big task, especially when your pet is not used to it. Let’s start with an increase in brushing - maybe 2-3 times a week! Start by letting your pet get used to the tooth brush by letting them sniff it, and rubbing it around their nose and mouth. You can also start lifting their gums slightly and tapping their teeth, to introduce them to you being so close to their mouth. 
  • Never use human toothpaste, it can be toxic to your pet! Make sure to ask your vet which toothpaste we recommend. You can begin putting toothpaste on your finger and letting your pet sniff it!
  • Although they don’t take the place of brushing, dental chews can definitely help reduce plaque and build up in your pet’s teeth. If you have a pup, apples are also a great snack that can help clean their teeth!
  • Check in on your pet’s gums & teeth often. Look for signs of inflammation, including redness, bleeding, or swelling. It can also be helpful to look for loose or cracked teeth! If any of these signs are present, call and schedule an appointment with your vet ASAP!

Here are a few tips from our very own Dr. Berns if you're just beginning to brush!

Week 1: For the first week, simply apply the toothpaste to your finger and offer it as a treat daily. It is important to use pet-based toothpaste as human toothpaste contains fluoride which is toxic if swallowed. You can also work on massaging the outer lips and muzzle so that your puppy becomes more comfortable with hands around their mouth.
Week 2: Using your finger, gently rub the toothpaste in a circular motion over the junction of the tooth and gum tissue. Do this on the outer portion (the parts touching the cheeks) of all of the teeth, keeping the sessions brief.
Week 3: Finally, introduce a soft toothbrush (either a sensitive or ultra-soft children's brush or a finger brush designed for pets). Apply the toothpaste to the brush and use the same circular motion while making contact with the outer tooth surface and gum tissue.

Well done, pet parent! The first step is always inquisition and education, and you are there! Attention to your pet’s dental health is essential to their health, and they will thank you for it in the long run. If you have any questions or concerns at all, please feel free to give us a call! We are more than happy to help.