At Murrayhill Veterinary Hospital, we recommend regular dental cleaning for pets. Good dental health is important for the overall health of your pet. Here are some frequently asked questions:

Why is it my pet dental cleaning important?

More than 85 percent of dogs and cats over 3 years old suffer from dental disease. When plaque, a mixture of food and bacteria accumulates on your pet’s teeth, the bacteria multiplies on the teeth and gums causing disease. The bacteria attacks the soft tissue of the gums causing them to become tender, red, swollen, and inflamed. The diseased gum pulls away from the tooth, creating periodontal pockets that trap more bacteria. These pockets then deepen and the bacteria begins to attack the deeper structures of the teeth, allowing the bacteria to enter the blood stream. Once the bacteria is in the blood it can cause a low level of toxemia or travel to major organs causing infection. The organs that are most susceptible to such a bacterial infection are the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and in some cases, the nervous system.

How do I know if my pet’s dental health is in danger?

Indications that your pet might need a dental exam and dental cleaning include: bad breath, red or swollen gums, bleeding from the gums when eating or chewing on toys, discolored teeth, or difficulty chewing.

Bad breath is NOT normal for pets. It often indicates periodontal disease! If you have any question regarding this, please schedule a dental exam with one of our veterinarians.

How does my pet get his / her teeth cleaned?

The way your pet gets his/ her teeth cleaned is very similar to the way that your dentist cleans your teeth. However, because dogs and cats don’t hold still very well, your pet needs to be anesthetized during the procedure. Because of this, a visit with our veterinarians is essential to make sure that your pet is healthy and ready for the dental procedure. To find out more about how dental procedures are performed at Murrayhill Veterinary Hospital, see “Arlo Gets His Teeth Cleaned…The Murrayhill Way.”

How often should my pets teeth be cleaned?

This depends on many factors including genetics (some breeds are more susceptible to teeth problems) as well as how often and how well you are able to perform home dental care (tooth brushing and Oravet application). Most pets will need a professional cleaning under anesthetic on an annual basis. If this seems often, remember that one year of your pets life is like six of ours. Imagine what our teeth would look like if we didn’t brush and only went to our dentist every six years!

What can I do at home to maintain my pet’s dental health after dental procedure?

Brushing your pet’s teeth with enzymatic toothpaste everyday is the best way to maintain his/her dental health. Ideally, you should brush every day since plaque begins to harden to tarter within 24 hrs. Dental diets and dental chews can also be helpful in removing plaque from above the gum line but does little for the more important areas below the gum line.  The Veterinary Oral Health Council, VOHC, exists to recognize products that meet pre-set standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats. Ask one of our certified veterinary technicians for a demonstration on home care.