How to look after your dog or cat's teeth

We don't think twice about brushing our teeth every day and going to the dentist once a year. But looking after your dog or cat's teeth is just as important! They can develop the same problems as humans. Time for a lesson in looking after pets' teeth.

What can you do?

Check their teeth

The accumulation of plaque can cause the same problems for dogs and cats as for humans. It can result in inflamed gums, which is not just painful but can also cause teeth to fall out. So, it's important to look after your dog or cat's teeth. For example, you can ask the vet to clean their teeth every year. There's also special pet toothpaste and snacks that a dog or cat can chew on to clean their teeth.

If your dog or cat has bad breath and stained teeth, it's advisable to consult the vet. Red gums can also indicate gum infection. A healthy dog or cat does not have bad breath, so this may be a sign that their teeth need seeing to.

Teach them young

It's useful to teach your puppy or kitten that it's normal for people to check their teeth. Start gradually, because this isn't natural behaviour for a young animal. The process is much the same for puppies and kittens: first carefully stroke their nose and reward them if they allow you to do this. The next step is to get them used to you lifting their lip. Again, reward your pet if they allow you to do this. If the puppy or kitten pulls away, take a step back and keep practising. Once they allow it, you can carefully brush their teeth with a dog toothbrush. Once your puppy or kitten is familiar with this 'trick', you can sometimes use special pet toothpaste.

Chewing is good for the teeth
There's a more pleasant way to prevent your dog or cat getting plaque too. For cats, there are chews available which help remove plaque. For dogs, there are plenty of games and chew bones which help remove plaque. It's advisable to buy a dog bone from rawhide rather than a 'real' bone. Bones can splinter or they may be so hard that your dog breaks their teeth on them. Make sure that the dog doesn't swallow the last piece though. Combine chewing with teeth brushing or a regular vet check!