Pet Dental Home Care

Home dental care, early in a pet’s life, is of primary importance for future oral health and preservation of teeth throughout life.  The best method for optimal home care is daily tooth brushing.

  • Brushing Cat's Teeth

    To minimize the need for professional dental scaling procedures and to maintain optimal oral health, we recommend daily dental home care from an early age in dogs and cats. This should include brushing or use of other effective techniques to slow down accumulation of dental plaque, such as dental diets and chew materials. For information on effective oral hygiene products for dogs and cats, visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

    Home Dental Care for Cats:

    Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your cat’s comfort and health. A wide variety of home oral hygiene options are available, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation will pay big dividends. What really matters is whether or not home oral hygiene was provided over the long haul – considerable effort applied only for a short period or only occasionally will be of no long-term benefit.

    Below are listed some common forms of home oral hygiene that have been proven to be of benefit for cats. Combining several methods will achieve the best results. All methods of home oral hygiene share the goal of preventing or controlling periodontal disease by minimizing plaque (bacterial film) accumulation, and preventing the mineralization of the plaque to form dental tartar. Cats can be reluctant to accept home oral hygiene, and require a very gradual, gentle and patient approach to achieve success.

    • Brushing your cat’s teeth is the single most effective means to maintain dental health between professional dental cleanings. This makes sense because the bacterial film known as “plaque” is the cause of periodontal disease. This film is easily disrupted by the simple mechanical effect of brushing the teeth. For brushing to be effective, it needs to be done several times each week - daily brushing is best. Most cats will allow their teeth to be brushed, but you need to take a very gradual and gentle approach. Start by letting your cat lick the dentifrice from your finger, then off the small feline toothbrush, then gradually place the brush in your cat’s mouth and add the brushing motions. Introduction of this process may require daily activity over 1-2 months. We recommend pet-specific dentifrice for cats; these products are safe for cats and come in flavors that cats accept, such as poultry and seafood. Avoid human toothpastes as they often contain abrasives and high-foaming detergents that should not be swallowed or inhaled. Small cat-specific toothbrushes are available. Some cats prefer finger brushes. Chlorhexidine is the most effective anti-plaque antiseptic. Watch a video from the Cornell Feline Health Center about how to brush your cat's teeth.
    • Chlorhexidine binds to the oral tissues and tooth surfaces, and is gradually released into the oral cavity. Chlorhexidine oral rinses or gels are safe for pets and rarely cause problems. The rinse is applied by squirting a small amount inside the cheek on each side of the mouth. The gel is smeared onto the side of the teeth or applied as a tooth-paste on a tooth-brush or finger brush. Many cats object to the taste of this product, while others accept it with no difficulty.
    • Several dental-specific diets have been shown to be of benefit in retarding accumulation of dental plaque and tartar cats. Some employ a specific kibble design and others include a chemical anti-tartar poly-phosphate ingredient.

    Unlike dogs, cats are very individualistic in their acceptance of home oral hygiene. Try several options (brushing, finger-brushing, dental rinses or gels, dental diets) to find those techniques and products that your cat best tolerates. Some cats are very particular about new flavors. Patience and a gentle approach will yield the best results. Our board certified veterinary dentists are familiar with available dental care products and can help tailor a specific home care regimen best suited to you and your cat.

    The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance is awarded to products that meet or exceed the VOHC standard for retarding accumulation of dental plaque or tartar. A complete listing of products that have been granted the VOHC Seal of Acceptance is available at www.VOHC.org. Click the Products Awarded the VOHC Seal link. The VOHC web site also features additional information about dental disease in pets, and there are other pages on this AVDC web site that may be helpful – periodontal disease, professional dental scaling, anesthesia-free dental scaling.

    Brushing Your Cat's Teeth

    Tooth brushing in cats is actually possible, watch Dr. Otten demonstrate on his cat Riku.

    Not all cat patients need daily teeth brushing. In those patients that are predisposed to periodontal disease, daily tooth brushing is really important. Starting at an early age to desensitize your cat is helpful. Begin by allowing your cat to lick the toothpaste off your finger (if using a flavored toothpaste). Then you can apply tooth paste on your pet’s gums and then progress to using a finger tooth brush. Ideally, the goal is to graduate to using a children’s soft-bristled tooth brush or a cat-specific tooth brush. Focus on brushing the outside of the teeth where gingivitis is more common and calculus tends accumulate. Be patient with your cat during this process. It may taking a month or longer to get your cat used to the procedure. Try using positive reinforcement. After tooth brushing, you can give your pet their favorite treats or feed them their meal or just spend some quality time with your cat. You may try sitting down and placing your cat on its back cradled between your legs. In this way, you have more control and better visualization of the mouth.

    In cats predisposed to periodontal disease, you need to brush your cat’s teeth every day. Brushing once a week or a couple times a month isn’t going to cut it. You’ll tend to get more calculus, which won’t brush off and bleeding gums from more severe gingiviits if you start getting behind. 

    • Brushing Dog's Teeth

      To minimize the need for professional dental scaling procedures and to maintain optimal oral health, we recommend daily dental home care from an early age in dogs and cats. This should include brushing or use of other effective techniques to slow down accumulation of dental plaque, such as dental diets and chew materials. For information on effective oral hygiene products for dogs and cats, visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

      Home Dental Care for Dogs:

      Home oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference in your dog’s comfort and health. There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation will pay big dividends. What really matters is whether or not home oral hygiene will be provided over the long haul – considerable effort applied only for a short period or only occasionally will be of no long-term benefit.

      Listed below some commonly used options for home oral hygiene that have been proven to be of benefit for dogs. Combining several methods will achieve the best results. All methods of home oral hygiene share the goal of preventing or controlling periodontal disease by minimizing plaque (bacterial film) accumulation, and preventing the mineralization of the plaque to form calculus (“tartar”).

      • Brushing and toothe pastes: Brushing your dog’s teeth is the single most effective means to maintain oral health between professional dental examinations. This makes sense because the bacterial film known as “plaque” is the cause of periodontal disease. This film is easily disrupted by the simple mechanical effect of brushing the teeth. Frequent (ideally daily) brushing is recommended to maintain optimal dental health. Almost all dogs will eventually accept brushing. The key to success is to be patient and gradual in your approach, brushing mainly the outsides of the “cheek teeth” located under the upper lip. A dog that resists brushing frequently may have painful areas in the mouth that need to be addressed.  A variety of products safe for pets are available in the marketplace. If you use a brush and a dentifrice, we recommend pet-specific toothpastes. These come in flavors that dogs accept, such as poultry and seafood. Avoid human toothpastes as they often contain abrasives and high-foaming detergents that should not be swallowed or inhaled by dogs.  Toothbrushes designed for dogs are soft and angled to assist in brushing the back teeth. Some dogs prefer finger brushes. A variety of “dental wipes” containing different products are available. The single-use wipes are rubbed daily on the outside of the teeth to remove plaque.
      • Chlorhexidine Rinse and Gel: Chlorhexidine is the most effective anti-plaque antiseptic. Chlorhexidine binds to the oral tissues and tooth surfaces, and is gradually released into the oral cavity. It is safe for pets and rarely causes problems, though it does have a bitter taste if palatability enhancers suitable for dogs are not included. Some dogs may object to the taste of products containing chlorhexidine while others accept it with no difficulty. The rinse is applied by squirting a small amount inside the cheek on each side of the mouth. The gel is applied by smearing it onto the teeth. The tongue and lips will spread the rinse or gel around the mouth.
      • Diets and Chews: Several “dental diets” have been shown to be of benefit in decreasing dental disease. Some employ a specific kibble design and others include a chemical anti-tartar poly-phosphate ingredient. Rawhide products and chew treats can be helpful if chewed daily, and some rawhide chews and biscuits contain an anti-tartar ingredient. Palatability is important – chewing every day is the ideal.  Dogs are carnivores – they chew on bones in the wild. However, we do not recommend cow hooves, dried natural bones, regular rawhide products, bully sticks, tennis balls or hard nylon products because they are too hard and do not mimic the effect of a dog tearing meat off a carcass. These hard products are associated with broken teeth or damaged gums.  Chew toys (ex. Kong products) are only of benefit if they are played with frequently and over the long haul – you can increase the dog’s willingness to chew by smearing palatable peanut butter or soft cheese on the product. Note, dogs should be monitored while chewing a chew treat or toy, as they may swallow large pieces, leading to a variety of digestive system disorders.

       

      Dog dental and chew products that we recommend are:

      • Tartar Shield Rawhide Chews Dental Diets (Hills, Royal Canin, Etc.)
      • Bright Bark & Meow Chlorhexidine Toothpaste
      • Healthy Mouth Drink Water Additives

       

      The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance is awarded to products that meet or exceed the VOHC standard for retarding accumulation of dental plaque or tartar. A complete listing of products that have been granted the VOHC Seal of Acceptance is available at www.VOHC.org. Click the Products Awarded the VOHC Seal link. The VOHC web site also features additional information about dental disease in pets, and there are other pages on this AVDC web site that may be helpful – periodontal disease, professional dental scaling, anesthesia-free dental scaling.

      Brushing Your Dog's Teeth

      Dr. Coffman demonstrates proper pet teeth brushing with Cassidy, one of our pet patients.

    • Pet Dental Products

      In addition to regular veterinary dental care, we also encourage our clients to provide regular home dental care for their pets, as it's very important in maintaining your dog or cat's oral health. Below you can learn more about each of the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved products we offer to help you keep your pet's teeth as healthy as possible. We only recommend VOHC approved products, as they've been tested and shown in clinical trials to effectively reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar build up in cats and dogs.

      If you have questions about dog or cat home care products or need a new supply of any of an item you use, please contact the Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists location nearest you.

      HealthyMouth Cat and Dog Essential

      • The only dental water additive to receive the Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Acceptance.
      • 100% natural, organic actives, kosher, vegan, no sugar, no fat, no chemicals.
      • Proven effective to significantly control plaque accumulation, reduce inflammation, diminish gingivitis, and soften any remaining plaque.

       

      CET® Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews for Dogs– Virbac®

      • Features the exclusive Dual-Enzyme System.
      • Natural antiseptic plus an abrasive texture that works with your dog's chewing action to reduce plaque and tartar.

       

      Tartar Shield® Soft Rawhide Chews – Therametric Technologies, Inc.®

      • Contains sodium tripolyphosphate to prevent plaque formation and malodor
      • Clinically proven to clean teeth, reduce bacteria, freshen breath, and prevent plaque and tartar build-up by more than 50%.
      • Soft rawhide surface is easy to chew and gental on your dog's teeth and gums.

       

      Tartar Shield® Dog Biscuits – Therametric Technologies, Inc.®

      • Each treat contains malic acid, a naturally occurring incredient found in citrus fruits that is clinically proven to reduce tartar formation by more than 30%.
      • A savory chicken flavored alternative to chews that also cleans teeth, freshens breath and prevents plaque and tartar build up.

       

      Science Diet® t/d® Oral Care™ for dogs and cats – Hills Pet Nutrition, Inc.

      • Mechanically delays plaque adherence. Fibers are arranged parallel so teeth penetrate kibble instead of shattering it (squeegee effect).
      • Kibbles are larger which ensures chewing instead of swallowing them whole.
      • It provides complete and balanced nutrition for overall health including anti-oxidentst.

       

      CET® Oral Hygiene Kit for Dog and Cats (with toothpaste) and Toothbrushes - Virbac®

      • Each kit is supplied with a double-ended toothbrush and finger brush.
      • Flavors are available in beef and poultry.
      • Toothbrushes have brush heads and handles shaped and angled for ease with cats and dogs of all sizes. 

       

      CET® Toothpastes - Virbac®

      • Antibacterial dual enzyme system contains calcium carbonate, an abrasive scrub that scrubs the teeth and Hypthiocyanate an oxidizing agent that is inhospitable to oral pathogens.
      • Available in beef and poultry flavors.

       

      Greenies® Pill Pockets for Cats and Dogs S&M NuTec, LLC

      • Makes pills a treat to give. A proven solution to your pill giving problem. 
      • Several flavors available for dogs and cats.

    Quick Links & Info

    • Professional Vet Dental Cleaning +

      Your pet's annual veterinary dental cleaning is an important part of keeping them healthy. Read More
    • Patient Forms & Portal +

      Complete your patient forms prior to your pet's appointment and access our new patient portal to manage your account, appointments and more. Read More
    • Pet Dental FAQs +

      Answers to some of your common questions about pet dental health and veterinary dentistry. Read More
    • For Referring Veterinarians +

      We work closely with our referring colleagues and we are committed to a smooth referral process for you and your client. Read More
    • Veterinary CE Seminars for Doctors and Techs +

      We offer excellent educational opportunities for veterinary professionals. Join us for lunch time CE's and seminars. Read More
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