Pets use their teeth for very different things than us — like catching balls, gnawing on bones and chewing on plants (we’re looking at you, cats). But when it comes to periodontal disease, they have the same problems we do. Without regular cleaning, a bacterial film of plaque builds up and infects the teeth and gums. If it’s not brushed away, it hardens into calculus, which leads to gingivitis, bone loss in the jaw, loose teeth and chronic pain.
80% of cats and dogs show signs of dental disease by age 3.
But pets are very good at hiding it, so you might not even notice. Look for signs like increasingly worse breath, loose or broken teeth, excessive drooling and sensitivity around the mouth. You may also notice changes in behavior like only chewing on one side of the mouth, no longer wanting to chew on toys, or a lack of interest in food.
If left untreated, it can lead to major problems like heart disease.
The bacteria that cause dental disease can spread to the heart, liver and kidneys to cause more damage. In fact, the risk of heart problems is about six times higher in dogs with stage three periodontal disease than for dogs without it.
Pets should brush almost as often as you do.
That’s right, at least five days a week with a dog or cat specific toothpaste (human ones contain xylitol, which is toxic to animals). They even make tasty savory flavored toothpaste options, but just make sure it’s low cal if you’re watching their weight. Nervous about getting started? We’ve got a guide to brushing your pet’s teeth that will come in handy. If tooth brushing is too much for your or your pet, try a dental chew, supplement, sprays, gel or other option from our dental care collection. You can even mix and match tooth these tools with brushing for even better results.
Vets are for teeth, too.
Regular check-ups give your vet a chance to monitor dental situations before they’re out of control and recommend a cleaning under anesthesia when necessary. These kinds of cleanings address all the things that regular brushing can’t, like severe issues under the gumline.