Start an Oral Hygiene Program at Home for a Healthy Mouth

Periodontal disease is the most common disease condition we see affecting all pets. By 2 years of age, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease. One of the best practices that you can do for your pet is to brush its teeth daily and this will help prevent periodontal disease from occurring and progressing by reducing plaque levels.

Plaque that has accumulated on the teeth will mineralize over a short period (2-3 days) into tartar which is more difficult to remove, and by removing the plaque daily we prevent tartar formation. It is so easy and inexpensive and just requires a little bit of daily effort, a toothbrush and some pet toothpaste.

Do not expect to brush all your pet’s teeth on your first attempt – often you may need to train them to accept it. This can be done by gradually introducing a flavoured toothpaste on your finger or toothbrush and allowing them to lick it. Have them in your lap or by your side and get them used to you patting and handling their lips. Next, you can attempt rubbing their gums or a tooth with your finger or toothbrush for a brief period. Offer them praise, food rewards as you go through this process. These sessions should be short and occur daily or twice daily. As they become more comfortable you can gradually start to move the brush to the back of their mouth and cover more tooth surfaces. You can expect that this whole process can take 1-2 months or longer for them to become accustomed to it depending on your pet. Please contact our clinic if you require more help and support through this process.

If you are unable to brush your pet’s teeth, there are other options, such as dental diets, water additives and chews that may be helpful to remove plaque and/or tartar. These work by mechanically removing plaque or by additives that prevent formation of plaque and mineralization of tartar.

Dental diets are a wonderful way to help maintain good oral health while providing a completely balanced and nutritional meal at the same time. It is best to use products that have a Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval on them for PLAQUE reduction as this is the starting point of periodontal disease. This seal indicates that the product has undergone clinical trials to show that they are effective and these trials have been found to be successful by a panel of veterinary dentists. You can find a list of approved products on their website:

Written by McLean Animal Hospital