Pet dentistry questions answered | From dog toothpaste to dental care for cats

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Check out the answers to these 10 common questions pet owners have about pet dental health.   From how to look after your dog’s teeth to the benefits of regular vet check ups, the Our Vet team at Best Friends Pets has it covered.

Q #1: What's the number one thing pet owners can do for their pet's dental health?

The best thing you can do for your pet's oral care is to take steps to prevent dental issues. Maintaining an attitude of 'prevention is key' is the number one thing you can do, though what this looks like involves multiple steps.

80% of cats and dogs over the age of 3 will develop dental issues, so pet owners should get into healthy habits as early as possible. You can help prevent dental problems by regular tooth brushing and daily use of pet dental products (more on that in question #5!).

Q #2: Why see a vet about your pet's dental health?

In the same way that you brush and (theoretically) floss your teeth but are still recommended to see a dentist for a clean and check-up every six months, your pet's teeth need expert attention on top of your at-home care. A veterinarian will be able to catch things you may not and help you take any action required to improve your pet's oral health.

The Our Vet team at Best Friends Pets can provide you with a tailored care plan specific to your pet's needs after an examination of your pet’s mouth. In fact, you can get a free dental check at selected Best Friends Pets through August – request an appointment here.

The team can also answer any questions you may have about techniques or products.

Q #3: How often should I get my pet's teeth checked by a vet?

Please get your pet's teeth checked every six months or as often as your vet suggests.

Q #4: What kind of toothpaste should I use for my dog or cat?

Use a made-for-pets toothpaste or gel. Never use human toothpaste or floss, as they can be harmful to your pet’s health.

Q #5: What can you clean dog's and cat's teeth with?

You can get more detail on this question in our articles Cat dental care: What to know about cat teeth cleaning and How to clean your dog's teeth with these 7 dog dental care products. 

Here's a quick checklist of what you should have at home:

●       A made-for-pets toothbrush or finger brush and toothpaste or gel

●       A water additive

●       Dental chews, sticks and treats

●       Dental food

●       Dental toys

Q #6: How much do dental checks cost?

At a Best Friends Pets Our Vet clinic, you can book a standard consultation (a full examination including a dental check) for $90. Our VIP members enjoy discounted consultation fees* ($81) or get unlimited dental checks and consultations as a Complete Care member. You can book a dental check on its own for a vet nurse consultation fee of $37.

For the month of August, we are offering free dental checks in selected Our Vet clinics to help you stay on top of your pet’s dental health.

Q #7: What happens if I don't clean my pet's teeth?

If a pet doesn't receive dental care at home, the rate of tartar build-up can increase. This can mean your pet would require more frequent dental scales and polishes at the vet, and it could increase their risk of health issues such as developing dental disease. A veterinary dental procedure under anaesthetic will be required to reverse dental disease if detected early. If detected too late, damage may be irreversible and teeth might need to be removed.

Q #8: What should I do if I can't get my pet to stay still so I can brush their teeth?

Avoid forcing your pet into having their teeth brushed as it can be stressful for them, and you may get scratched or bitten. If you cannot brush your pet's teeth at home, there are plenty of other steps you can take to look after their teeth (see question #4). Ensure you are taking your pet to the vet for regular checks, and they may be able to offer some tips on technique for you to try at home.

Q #9: What's the best food for pet dental care?

Each pet may require a different combination of ingredients or have a flavour preference. If you're buying high-quality, commercial pet food designed for dental care, your pet's teeth should be in good hands.

We have a range of dental foods at Best Friends Pets, and our team of experts can help you choose which one to try first.

Q #10: What can cause dental issues in pets?

All pets develop plaque and tartar over time, so preventing dental issues is a daily practice. A diet consisting of more soft food than dry food can contribute to harmful build-up, as dry food can help scrape plaque from their teeth. If your pet has crowded teeth, this can also contribute to issues – your vet will let you know if you need to consider tooth extraction, or if daily prevention on its own could manage their oral health.

Dental care plays a key role in your pet's long-term health. With a bit of help from the Our Vet team, you can learn the skills and stock up on the products you need to help keep your best friend happy and healthy.