February Is National Pet Dental Health Month: Clean Those Teeth!

Article Featured on Dogtime.com

Dental disease is more than just a cosmetic issue. When your canine companion or feline friend has red gums, yellow teeth, and stinky breath, it could be a sign of serious oral disease that could, if left untreated, lead to devastating affects on your pet’s quality of life.

Neglecting your pet’s teeth and gums can cause chronic pain issues that may even be at the center of certain behavioral problems. That’s why National Pet Dental Health Month, observed all through February, is so important! Here are some things to keep in mind this month and all throughout the year.

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Pet Dental Month: Healthy Dental Practices for Pets

Article Featured on Douglas Feed & Pet Supply

February has been declared Pet Dental Month –and for good reason. The most common disease seen by veterinarians is dental disease. In fact, 75-85% of pets over the age of 2 have dental disease of some form. You’re probably thinking: Great, I don’t like going to the dentist, I can only imagine how my pet feels about it! The truth is, the same philosophy that applies to you and your family also applies to your pets when it comes to dental care. Below, we’ll discuss the importance of healthy dental practices for your pets and what you should do to ensure they have a comfortable and long, healthy life.

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Article Featured on Vetstreet.com

“Dogs and cats do not have self-cleaning teeth,” Dr. Bernadine Cruz of Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in Laguna Woods, California, says. “If their teeth are not taken care of properly, a large percentage of pets will have some type of dental disease by 4 years of age.”

Dental woes are more than just a toothache; they can also pose a serious threat to your pet’s well-being. That is because the condition of your pet’s teeth and gums can directly affect her overall health. Read on to learn about the top four signs of poor dental hygiene and the best ways to combat them.

1. Bad Breath

How often have you gotten eye to eye with a furry friend only to be put off by her breath? We usually explain away a pet’s bad breath as simply being “dog breath” or “cat breath,” as if it is a normal part of her being. However, unless your pet has just eaten something stinky such as tuna, it is important to recognize that bad breath is not normal and can indicate a problem with her dental health.

2. Discolored Teeth

Healthy canine and feline teeth are white. Any discolorations or stains should be examined by your veterinary team. In addition, buildup or darker areas on your pet’s teeth, particularly around the gumline, is another sign that something isn’t right with her dental health.

3. Red, Swollen or Bleeding Gums

Healthy gums are pink (although some breeds have pigmented gums). Gums that are red and swollen or are bleeding need attention.

4. Loose Teeth

Unless your pet’s jaw has been injured, loose teeth can be an indication of bone loss. You can determine if teeth are loose by gently pressing on them. But do so carefully, as this can be painful and even the most docile pet may bite.

What’s the Problem?

All of the above problems can be signs of periodontal disease, a disease that attacks the gums and teeth and can cause potentially life-threatening infections. Here is how it happens: Plaque builds up on your pet’s teeth. If it is not brushed away within 24 to 36 hours, it hardens into a yellow or brown substance called tartar, which can be removed only by a veterinarian (ideally, while the pet is under anesthesia). Over time, tartar that remains on your pet’s teeth also builds up under the gums. Tartar and bacteria eventually separate the gums from the teeth, forming gaps or pockets that encourage even more bacterial growth. At later stages of the disease, surgery may be needed to repair the damage, and affected teeth may need to be pulled.

Periodontal disease is painful for your pet and can lead to abscesses and loss of bone and teeth. It also presents other health risks. “If left untreated, dental disease can spread infection throughout the body,” Dr. Cruz explains. “When the health of the gums is compromised, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause infection in your pet’s liver, lungs, kidneys and heart.”

Prevention Is the Key

The good news is that you can combat periodontal disease in your pet. Caring for her dental health really comes down to three simple steps:

  • Have your pet’s teeth cleaned professionally by your veterinarian on a regular basis.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth daily to help reduce the buildup of plaque.
  • Pay attention to your pet’s dental health. Check on her teeth and her gums regularly.

Visit Your Veterinarian

The first step in ensuring that your pet’s teeth are taken care of is to take her for professional dental cleanings.

For pets with healthy teeth and gums, cleanings are usually done about once a year. Pets that have severe periodontal disease may require more frequent visits. Your veterinarian will recommend a cleaning schedule based on your pet’s needs. Every pet is unique when it comes to dental disease. “Genetics, breed and luck all play a part in how often you will need to have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned,” Dr. Cruz says.

One method of cleaning is to use an ultrasonic scaler. Its metal tip moves quickly and vibrates, using a stream of water to remove debris and plaque off teeth. Similar to what happens during a trip to your own dentist, your pet’s teeth will be cleaned both above and below the gumline and then polished.

Your veterinarian may recommend anesthesia for the procedure, because most pets will not sit still for their teeth to be cleaned under the gumline. Your veterinary staff will take plenty of precautions to make undergoing anesthesia as risk free as possible for your pet.

Your veterinarian may perform a preanesthetic exam and will most likely recommend a blood profile screening, which can help rule out preexisting problems that could affect the safety of anesthesia. In addition, today’s anesthesia is safer for dogs and cats. Recent clinical advances in anesthesia help ensure that your pet will be alert and virtually back to normal shortly after the cleaning.

Cleaning at Home

Home care is an essential part of keeping your pet’s teeth in tip-top shape. “The best time to start a dental routineis when you first bring home a puppy or kitten,” Dr. Cruz explains. “Your first goal is just to get her used to having her teeth and gums touched.”

Start by simply wiping your pet’s teeth with a damp washcloth wrapped around your finger. Offer your pet lots of praise for being cooperative. After she has gotten used to the washcloth, she can graduate to a pet-safe toothbrush. This method can also work on an older pet that has not previously received home dental care.

Once you are ready to start brushing your pet’s teeth, you will need two essentials:

  • Toothpaste specially formulated for pets. Pet toothpaste comes in all kinds of interesting flavors, including vanilla, beef, chicken and seafood. Avoid using human toothpaste, which can irritate your pet’s stomach if she swallows it.
  • A toothbrush. One that has been specially developed for pets (e.g., a little rubber finger brush for cats, a smaller brush for small dogs) is your best bet. You can always ask your veterinarian for advice on making the brushing experience a positive one for you and your four-legged friend.

You will find that regular professional cleanings, as well as the simple act of daily brushing, will help keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthier throughout her life. A little extra care in the short run will lead to important health benefits for years to come.

Toothbrushing Tips

  • Dampen the toothbrush first.
  • Press the toothpaste down to the bottom of the brush. This will help keep your pet from licking the toothpaste off the brush.
  • Take your time introducing this new routine into your pet’s life.

Fighting Dental Disease With Food

Diet can play a role in maintaining your pet’s dental health. Specially formulated dental diets are effective in fighting plaque and tartar buildup. For added assurance, look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance. You can also ask your veterinary staff which diet they recommend.


Laurelwood Animal Hospital, located near Jesuit High School on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway offers a full range of companion animal services, including surgery, nutrition and behavior counseling, parasite control and preventative medicine. The hospital also offers advanced imaging through an all-digital spiral CT scanner, a comprehensive dental program and laser treatment.

If you’re looking for quality, compassionate veterinary care in Beaverton, Oregon, come visit us at Laurelwood Animal Hospital.

Laurelwood Animal Hospital

9315 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway
Beaverton, Oregon 97005

Phone: (971) 244-4230
Fax: (503) 292-6808

E-mail: info@laurelwoodvets.com

5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Pet's Dental Health

Article By Laura Cross | Featured on VetStreet

Are your pet’s pearly whites more yellow-brown in color? Does his breath make you plug your nose? We wouldn’t be surprised if many of you answered yes and yes. By the time they’re 3 years old, most dogs and cats suffer from some degree of dental disease — and yellow-brown tartar and stinky breath are just two of the warning signs. But your pet doesn’t have to be part of that disheartening statistic! There are steps you can take at home — and with the help of your veterinarian — to help combat dental disease.

Read on to learn how you can improve your dog or cat’s dental health.

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Your Cat's Dental Health

By Arden Moore | Featured on carecredit.com

A sudden boycott at mealtime might be due to dental pain.

Ever chomp down on a piece of taffy only to have it tear out a filling? This is a surprising – and painful – event. Trust me, I know.

I’ve been through this situation that prompted me to immediately see a dentist to relieve the ache and repair my teeth. Now, imagine your cat has a dental issue. He doesn’t have a veterinary dentist on speed dial. And as a species with a reputation for being both predator and prey, he is not keen on alerting anyone – even you, his most trusted human ally – that he is in a weakened, vulnerable state due to mouth pain. Even though he might prowl strictly indoors, he doesn’t want to show any sign of weakness to avoid drawing the attention of any predator – real or imagined.

Dental issues are more common in cats than most people realize. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 70 percent of cats develop some degree of gum disease by the age of 3. Yes, you read right: the young age of 3. That’s why you must take on the role of pet detective and look for any clues that your cat might be experiencing a dental issue. And a key “crime scene” occurs at mealtime.

Be on the lookout for these serious clues:

  • Your sweet cat suddenly swats you when you attempt to pet his head.
  • Your feline foodie now stares at his filled food bowl and walks away.
  • Your normally neat eater is littering your kitchen floor with pieces of kibble.
  • Your steady eater is taking twice as long to finish his meal.
  • Your cat seems to have difficulty swallowing food or treats.

All these clues can point to the fact that your cat might be dealing with a dental issue like a broken tooth or infected gum. Or worse: He might be coping with stomatitis, or a life-threatening disease, such as hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease).

Many of us brush our teeth at least twice a day and gargle with mouthwash. We book semi-annual visits to our dentist to undergo cleanings and professional exams. We would not consider going a week without brushing our teeth – yuck!

Sadly, that’s not the case for our cats. Without our help, they are at serious risk for developing tartar buildup, gingivitis, and abscesses. They can suffer tooth loss, incur oral tumors, and even develop infections that can spread to their lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys, causing life-threatening conditions. That’s why I urge you to be “down in the mouth” with your cat and pay attention to his teeth and gums.

For the sake of your cat’s health:

  • Monitor mealtimes. Cats who eat slower than usual, back away from a bowl, or suddenly spill kibble might be experiencing oral pain. Report these changes immediately to your veterinarian.
  • Shop smartly. Purchase cat treats, dental chews, dental toys, oral gels, and toothpastes that carry the VOHC seal of acceptance. VOHC stands for Veterinary Oral Health Council, a group comprised of veterinary dentists who regularly evaluate and determine which products meet their standards of earning the VOHC logo on the packaging.
  • Look for effective brush-free options. If your cat won’t let you mess with his mouth, minimize the accumulation of tartar with feline-safe dental mouth rinses that contain chlorhexidine, considered the gold standard for anti-plaque antiseptics by the American Veterinary Dental College. Give him dental chews or chlorophyll-based dental treats to help remove surface tartar.
  • Establish a dental routine. If you are lucky to live with a laid-back cat like my tabby, Casey, who doesn’t kick up a fuss when you handle his mouth, brush his teeth daily or at least a few times a week. Use only cat-safe toothpaste and toothbrushes (or finger brushes). Teeth brushing works best if you wrap your cat in a big bath towel and work on his pearly whites inside a losed bathroom to minimize the chance for escape.
  • Dish up dental-friendly diets if warranted by your veterinarian. Several commercial pet food companies offer dental-friendly diets that contain fibrous materials that scrub surface tartar off teeth as well as enzymes that aid in blocking plaque from attaching to your cat’s teeth.

Laurelwood Animal Hospital,located near Jesuit High School on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway offers a full range of companion animal services, including surgery, nutrition and behavior counseling, parasite control and preventative medicine. The hospital also offers advanced imaging through an all-digital spiral CT scanner, a comprehensive dental program and laser treatment.

If you’re looking for quality, compassionate veterinary care in Beaverton, Oregon, come visit us at Laurelwood Animal Hospital.

Laurelwood Animal Hospital

9315 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway
Beaverton, Oregon 97005

Phone: (971) 244-4230
Fax: (503) 292-6808

E-mail: info@laurelwoodvets.com