Dental Health for your pet

by Anita Ansell, Veterinary Nurse

Your pet needs dental care - regular, professional care from your veterinarian, as well as care at home from you.


Why get your pets teeth checked regularly?

Problems usually start with a build up of sticky plaque that hardens to form tartar. If not removed this can lead to gingivitis, a painful condition of inflamed gums, and eventually periodontal disease may develop.

Pets could then lose teeth and can be prone to infections that may affect other organs in the body. Keeping up to date with a general dental check by your Vet can prevent health problems your pet may develop.

Identifying Problems

Open your pet’s mouth and look inside (you should start to do this when they are young so they can get used to this).

Common indications of dental problems could be:

  • Bad Breath
  • Dribbling
  • Sore mouth
  • Difficulty eating or not eating at all
  • Loose teeth
  • Pawing or rubbing the mouth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Yellow or brown tartar on teeth


If you notice any of the above indications you should arrange a check with your vet as soon as possible. If your pet is NOT showing any signs of dental disease, it’s important to help keep your pets teeth clean to prevent problems in the future.


Factors to consider


There are many reasons why some cats and dogs are more prone to dental disease than others.  Some factors that affect dental disease include:

  • Age - a factor with dental problems, disease is more common in older pets.
  • Breed – Small dogs are more likely to have overcrowded or misaligned teeth so are more prone to dental disease as their teeth are harder to keep clean.
  • Food – Feeding a diet containing sticky foods and treats can lead to a more rapid build up of plaque.

Prevention at home

  • Brushing teeth – use pet toothpaste only, these do not need to be rinsed out like human toothpastes. If you are going to undertake teeth brushing, start slowly. 
  • Drinking water additive for dogs and cats, such as Aquadent. Water additive reduces plaque and tartar buildup by more than 50 percent.
  • Dental chews – available in all sizes, chose one suitable for your pet
  • Special dental food – Diets such as Hills prescription T/D or Royal Canin Dental - designed to scrub the tooth surface reducing bacteria laden-plaque. Great for the back teeth that are designed for grinding (like the molars and premolars)
  • Make the most of our free dental checks - phone now to book an appointment for a free dental check on 348 9728 (Straven Branch) or 352 5749 (Papanui Branch)

T/D is an example of a specially formulated dental food.  Available from your Veterinary Clinic

Disclaimer and copyright



Dental examinations by your Veterinarian or Veterinary Nurse are an important part of your pets dental care.



Get an animal teeth brush (or finger brush) and animal tooth paste for teeth brushing.



Training your pet to accept having its teeth brushed takes time and patience and is best introduced when they are young.



Aquadent is a water additive which has been shown to reduce plaque and tartar buildup by more than 50%



There are many different types of dental chews on the market - talk to the Veterinary Clinic staff about the best options for your pet.