Pet Oral Health

By the age of two, 80% of pets are living with dental disease. Maintaining oral health is important because gum disease can cause pain and possibly lead to more serious illnesses, such as heart, liver, and kidney disease.

Causes of Dental Disease. 

Plaque is at the root of most dental problems in pets. Plaque is a colourless film that contains large amounts of bacteria. Left untreated, plaque hardens into a substance called tartar that forms along the base of the tooth, near and below the gum line. This process causes inflammation of the gums that is known as gingivitis.  As the inflammation progresses, it destroys gums and tissues that support the teeth, leading to pain, bone loss, and tooth loss.

Infection associated with dental disease can be responsible for bad breath, bacteria can enter a pet’s bloodstream and spread to vital organs such as the heart, liver or kidneys. Preventive oral care throughout your pet’s life can reduce the formation of plaque and tartar which can lead to gingivitis, dental disease and systemic diseases that can negatively impact the life of your pet.

Signs of Dental Disease

Make sure to check your pets' teeth regularly for the following signs:

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding or red gums
  • Yellow brown crust around gum line
  • Dribbling saliva
  • Subdued behaviour
  • Tooth loss
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Change of eating habits
  • Pain when eating
  • Refusing to eat

Dental Formula in Pet Food.

All premium pet dry food sold at VetEnt is specially formulated to slow down the formation of plaque and tartar and to scrape the tartar off your cat or dog’s teeth.

Specific prescription diets are available to reduce the progression of dental disease. You will notice a difference in a few weeks. Prescription diets are nutritionally balanced providing all the nutrients your pet needs for staying healthy.

These foods should be fed long term, either on their own or alongside your pet’s regular food to maintain dental health.

Avoid feeding your pet table scraps and treats that encourage plaque formation.


Research has proven that 80% of all cats and dogs have some form of visible dental disease by the age of 2. Tartar build up is like cement on the teeth. The best way to avoid more serious dental disease is for your pet to have annual dental checks. The vet or nurse may suggest a scale and polish is required.

Your pet needs to be anaesthetised and a tube placed down the throat before an ultrasonic descaler is used to remove all tartar, any loose teeth are removed and the teeth are polished to help reduce tartar build up again.

Prevention is the best way to reduce further dental work being required.


There are several methods we use to try and slow the buildup of tooth tartar which leads to gingivitis, decay and tooth loss.


Regular brushing of your cat or dog’s teeth should be done using finger brushes, pet toothbrushes and pet toothpaste which are available from VetEnt. 

Dog and cat’s teeth should be brushed using a brush at a 45 degree angle in small circular motions. Get your pet used to having its teeth brushed using just a brush initially then progress to using pet toothpaste, initially brush the front teeth only and then slowly incorporate back ones as well.

Never use human toothpaste on dogs.

Chew and Teeth Toys.

These are created and designed to help keep the surfaces of the teeth free from tartar and massage your pet’s gums as your pet plays.

Smoked Bones.

These are very hard and dogs are not able to break them into small pieces (NB raw, cooked, or dried bones are not appropriate and can lead to constipation, sharp shards in the stomach and intestine, and foreign bodies).

Water Treatments.

There are treatments you can add to your pet’s drinking water to stop the bacteria laden tartar sticking to the teeth.

There are several specially formulated treats available that have chemical and mechanical teeth cleaning properties.

Maintaining Oral Health.

To protect your animals’ teeth it is essential that you provide them with regular home and veterinary dental care. It is beneficial to start dental care in young pets where dental disease is not yet present. Prevention is always better than treatment. Options include a combination of:

  • Regular pet health and dental checks
  • Professional dental cleaning (to remove plaque and calculus)
  • Scientifically proven dental diets
  • Appropriate chews
  • Tooth brushing
  • Use of dental toys for play.

All pets are at risk of developing dental disease. Some pets show no signs of dental disease, even when it is severe and extremely painful.

Regular visits will help our veterinary health care team provide for your pets best interests.

The Dental Health of Your Pet.

Pet Dental Services.

Good cat dental care and dog dental care is essential for a happy and healthy pet. Checking your cat or canine’s teeth for signs of dental disease combined with regular vet checks enable us to identify the early signs of dental disease and prevent further damage. We can provide at home dental plans and regular professional cleaning. 

The accumulation of bacteria, saliva, and food on teeth is referred to as plaque. If not removed from the tooth over time the plaque becomes mineralised, forming a hard coating over the tooth called tartar. The build-up of plaque and tartar is reversible. If caught and treated early there is a good chance for the return of a healthy mouth. If tartar is not removed, the bacteria present within it begin to damage the structures holding the tooth in place. Initially there will be inflammation of the gums termed gingivitis, the gums appear reddened and bleed easily. Further progression leads to damage of the ligaments and bone surrounding the tooth, compromising tooth integrity. These changes are irreversible and are collectively called periodontal disease, which is very painful for your pet. When gums bleed and teeth loosen it allows bacteria from the mouth to enter the blood-stream, which can then travel to and lodge in other organs potentially causing damage. It is therefore very important to have a healthy dental plan in place, to aid in creating a healthy pet.

Many factors play a role in dental disease, some of which we can address to reduce and slow its progression. Creating a healthy mouth starts at home with regular teeth examinations. It is ideal to start checking your pets mouth from a young age so they get used to their mouths being examined. Signs your pet may have dental disease include: bad breath, not eating, excessive drooling, discoloured teeth and bleeding gums. If you detect any of these signs in your pet’s mouth then it is best to get it checked by your veterinarian.   

At home tools you can use at home to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup on teeth include – special diets formulated to help clean teeth, tooth brushing, and dental chews. However if your pet already has plaque and tartar build up then they require a professional scale and polish to help return the mouth to a healthy state.

If you would like to get your dog or cat dental care assessed, or if you have any further questions or concerns regarding dental procedures, please feel free to call us at the clinic. We will be happy to discuss these with you.