Dog & Cat Dental - Dental Health in Cats and Dogs

I'm Alex Steininger. A big part of maintaining good health in our pets is managing oral hygiene. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so we have Dr. Stephanie Young from West Coast Animal Hospital to share all the dental details with us. Great to see you, doctor.

Stefanie Young
West Coast Animal Hospital

What do we need to know when it comes to our pet's teeth?

It's very important. Dental disease is one of the most common problems affecting pets in all age groups. 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will develop some form of dental disease before the age of three. Periodontal disease, left untreated, can not only result in the loss of teeth but can also affect other organs in the body, particularly the heart and the kidneys, which can ultimately shorten their lifespan.

When it comes to cleanings, there are a couple of options. There are anesthetic and non-anesthetic. What's the difference between those?

Great question. Since 60% of dental disease hides underneath the gum line, it's very important to address more than just the part of the tooth that we can visibly see. Non-anesthetic teeth cleanings will just scrape the tartar off the tooth and can actually damage the outer layer or the enamel of the tooth. Whereas with anesthetic cleanings, we can take dental x-rays, check for abscesses, pockets, fractures, and other problematic teeth, and also address that hidden disease underneath the gum line, which is great.

The teeth are scaled and polished, similar to how humans get their teeth clean. Because there is such a wide variation, some breeds are more predisposed to dental disease than others. It does vary how often they need these cleanings. So it's important to consult with your veterinarian, and they can help guide you on when to schedule teeth cleaning for your pet.

Maintenance between visits is also important. What can be done at home?

Brushing your pet's teeth at home will help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. But there are also lots of products on the market that you can purchase to help. Looking for the VOHC or Veterinary Oral Health Counsel seal on those dental products can help you determine what to choose. Some of those products include Greenies, C.E.T. chews, Yummy Combs, and T/D food.

Dr. Young, thanks so much for being here. Let West Coast Animal Hospital take the stress out of going to the veterinarian.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (619) 431-1423, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media,