Pearly Whites - Or At Least They Should Be!

Dental Disease in Dogs & Cats

Four out of five dogs and cats over the age of 3 have some sort of periodontal disease, which undoubtedly, becomes more severe with age if left untreated. This can be a real problem for pets and owners, as poor dental health can lead to more serious problems, such as illnesses related to the heart, liver and kidneys.

When was the last time you took a good look in your pets’ mouth?

Did you know that your dog has 42 permanent teeth and your cat has 30? Every day, we are presented with pets for routine vaccinations or health checks with worrying dental hygiene. Upon displaying the loose, rotting teeth and infected gums to the owner, the response is usually one of shock.

Making a conscious effort to check your pets’ mouth on a regular basis can help prevent most cases of severe dental disease.

Signs of oral disease in dogs and cats:

  • Bad breath

  • Loose teeth, or teeth that are discoloured or covered in tartar

  • Drooling or dropping food from the mouth

  • Red, inflamed or bleeding gums

  • Appetite or weight loss

What can I as the pet owner do?

If you are concerned, you should book an appointment with us at The Bloomin’ Vet to have your pets’ teeth examined. If our vet has recommended that your pet be anaesthetised for a dental clean, it is advised that you proceed. However, long term control and prevention of dental disease also requires regular care at home.

The downside of leaving dental problems untreated is your pet's teeth and gums can change rapidly. Advanced dental disease is not something that should be left untreated. Not only is it painful and uncomfortable for pets, the procedure to clean and remove teeth becomes more complicated and therefore, more costly.

What is involved in a professional dental clean?

Before the procedure:

  • An estimate of likely costs will be discussed in an initial exam before your pet is admitted for a dental procedure. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to predict if a tooth requires extraction until your pet is anaesthetised. It is important to be contactable during the procedure to discuss this decision.

  • A pre-anaesthetic blood test will more than likely be recommended to look for any underlying disease that may influence our decision to anaesthetise your furry friend.

  • Intravenous fluid therapy during the procedure will also be highly recommended. IV fluids can help maintain their blood pressure and reduce the risk of any secondary problems arising during the anaesthetic, such as kidney troubles.

During the procedure:

  • Anaesthesia is induced and maintained.

  • All teeth are checked and graded according to level of gingivitis (gum inflammation), and calculus, (solidified material) build up.

  • Each tooth will then have major calculus and plaque removed.

  • If teeth are to be removed nerve blocks using local anaesthetic injection are performed

  • Tooth extraction is then carried out if required. This can be quite complicated with larger teeth due to the deeper roots.

  • Each tooth is polished with a high grade paste.

  • Pain relief and antibiotics are administered if required.

  • The anaesthetic is turned off, and oxygen maintained until your pet wakes up and recovery is complete.

Following the dental procedure, a regular home care programme is recommended. This may involve anything from manual tooth brushing to a prescription dental diet. One of our friendly staff will discuss this with you when you pick your pet up after the procedure. A free progress examination is performed to monitor your pets’ progress 7 days after the procedure. We also recommend that your pet be examined every 3 months following the procedure to determine the effectiveness of your home care routine.

Dental home care

Listed below are numerous ‘at-home’ techniques you can implement to ensure your pet has the best smile in town. All these methods assist in reducing plaque build-up, but are rarely enough to treat advanced periodontal disease alone.

  • Tooth brushing is the best dental hygiene practice. It may seem difficult at first, but with the right attitude and perseverance, it can be a seemingly enjoyable and hassle free task for both you, and your pet. This should be done three times weekly.

  • Raw bones (Mother Nature’s toothbrush). AVOID bones that shatter or can get stuck on the roof of your pet’s mouth. Bones like brisket, marrow, knuckle or cooked bones are NOT suitable. Tough cartilage bones, such as fresh turkey necks, chicken frames or kangaroo tails are ideal. Raw chicken wings are suitable for your feline friend.

  • Replacing your pets’ usual diet with a dental kibble such as Royal Canin Dental is a no fuss option to ensure your pets teeth get cleaned daily.

  • Dental chews, such as Greenies are a daily total oral care solution.

  • Water additives are also available for those pets who are not keen chewers. Healthy Mouth is a drinking water additive that reduces oral bacteria and prevents plaque build-up.

  • Dental exercisers, such as chew toys are especially helpful with puppies during their teething phase, and they save your shoes.

The important thing to remember is to start a home care routine early. Puppies and kittens quickly learn to accept dental home care as part of their daily routine, allowing you to develop appropriate dental hygiene early enough to help prevent disease. However, older animals can also learn and benefit from the same processes. Regular and frequent attention to your pet's teeth will avoid annual visits to the clinic for a professional dental clean, and will also improve your pet's overall health.

Are you ready to test your dental knowledge?

1. How many permanent teeth does your dog have?




2. How many permanent teeth does your cat have?





3. Which of the following are signs of dental disease in pets?

Decreased appetite or difficulty eating

Red or inflamed gums

Loose or missing teeth

Excessive salivation

All of the above

4. The major organ that can be susceptible to damage due to dental disease is?




All of the above

5. Which of the following preventative techniques are important in preventing dental disease in your pet?

Regular tooth brushing

Dental chews

Dental food

Regular dental examinations by your veterinarian

All of the above


  1. 42

  2. 30

  3. All of the above

  4. All of the above

  5. All of the above



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