Healthy Barks & Whiskers: A Comprehensive Guide to Proactive Dental Care for Pets

When your pet experiences a toothache, they can’t tell you directly like we can call our dentist for relief. Animals are adept at hiding pain, and dental issues can persist unnoticed. At All Animal Veterinary Services, we believe in proactive pet teeth cleaning to prevent dental diseases and promote the well-being of your furry companions. This guide covers the essentials of pet dental care, including professional teeth cleaning and at-home practices.

Gum Disease:  A Hidden Danger for Dogs and Cats

By age three, pets often show early signs of gum disease that will escalate without preventive measures. In its early stages, we refer to gum disease as gingivitis. Untreated gingivitis advances to periodontal disease. Early detection and treatment are crucial, as periodontal disease can lead to tooth and bone loss and pain for your pet. Plaque that hardens into tartar is the starting point, with below-gumline buildup causing infection and damage to the teeth and jawbone. Only professional veterinarian dental cleanings can remove tartar from above and below the gum line. 

Signs of dental problems in pets

It is essential to recognize potential dental problems in pets so they can be caught early and treated. Here are some common signs that indicate your pet may be experiencing dental issues:

  • Bad breath: Persistent bad breath, often described as “fishy” or “rotten,” can indicate dental problems in pets.

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums: Inflamed or bleeding gums may indicate gum disease or other dental issues.

  • Difficulty eating or chewing: If your pet is having trouble eating or is reluctant to chew hard food, drooling excessively, lip licking, or teeth chattering, it may be due to tooth pain or discomfort caused by dental problems.

  • Pawing at the mouth: Pets experiencing dental pain may paw at their mouth to alleviate the discomfort.

  • Drooling excessively: Excessive drooling can be a sign of dental issues, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as bad breath or difficulty eating.

  • Changes in behavior: Dental pain can cause changes in your pet’s behavior, including irritability, aggression, or reluctance when you touch around the mouth.


If you notice any of these signs in your pet, please contact us so we can examine its teeth. Early detection and treatment can prevent further complications and maintain your pet’s dental health.


Professional Pet Dental Cleanings

Veterinarians use various methods to address gum disease in pets. The first step involves X-rays and a thorough dental examination to assess the severity of the disease. We then remove the plaque and tartar by scaling and cleaning the teeth, particularly below the gumline. In more advanced cases where pockets may have formed, a veterinarian may conduct root planing to smooth the tooth roots and promote healing. Occasionally, we prescribe antibiotics or other medications to manage infection and inflammation. Regular follow-up visits and proactive dental care contribute to maintaining a pet’s oral health and overall well-being.

Below is an example of before and after pictures of professional dental cleaning on a dog.

Proactive Prevention

Keeping your pet’s teeth healthy requires professional dental and at-home care. Regular professional pet dental care can prevent your pet from suffering from gum disease or tooth loss. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends a pet dental exam and cleaning at least once a year. And just like you, pets’ teeth need to be brushed daily to keep their teeth and gums healthy. 

Home Care for Your Pet’s Teeth

Here are steps you can take at home to maintain your pet’s oral health:

  • Feed your pet a dental diet. 
  • Give your pet dental chews.
  • Provide chew toys designed for pet dental health. 
  • Brush your pet’s teeth daily using pet toothpaste and an appropriate brush size and pet enzymatic toothpaste. Don’t listen to anyone telling you that you don’t need to brush pets’ teeth. Dental chews and chew toys will help with your pet’s dental care, but alone they will not remove the plaque as will daily brushing with a pet enzymatic toothpaste. 

Please click on the picture below to watch the video from the AVMA on how to brush pets’ teeth.

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Exotic Pets’ Dental Needs

Dental care for exotic pets ensures their overall health and well-being. Many exotic animals have unique dental structures and dietary needs that differ from traditional domestic pets. Without proper dental hygiene, these animals can suffer from dental issues such as overgrown teeth, periodontal disease, and malocclusions. (A malocclusion in an exotic pet like a rabbit refers to a condition where the upper and lower teeth don’t meet correctly, potentially causing pain and making it difficult for the pet to eat.) Regular dental checkups and preventive care, including appropriate chewing toys and a balanced diet, are essential to maintain proper oral health in exotic pets. By prioritizing dental care, owners can contribute to the longevity and happiness of their exotic companions, promoting a high quality of life for these unique and often delicate creatures.

In Closing

Prioritizing your pet’s dental health is vital to their well-being. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” which holds true for proactive dental care. By understanding the signs of dental problems and embracing both professional and at-home care, you can ensure your furry companions enjoy a lifetime of dental health. 

At All Animal Veterinary Services in Modena, New York, we are committed to partnering with you to maintain your pet’s oral health. Remember, a little effort now can prevent significant dental issues in the future, providing your pets with the care they deserve. If you notice any signs of dental problems, please get in touch with us for a thorough examination. Together, we can keep those tails wagging and whiskers twitching.

Warm regards,

Your Caring Team at

All Animal Veterinary Services

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