When your pet’s breath is minty-fresh, you welcome their slobbery kisses but when your furry pal’s breath stinks, you shirk away from their smooches. While pets generally have a slight mouth odor, a foul smell is a sure underlying health issue sign. Because up to 90% of all pets suffer from dental disease at a young age, periodontal problems are likely causing your furry pal’s bad breath odor. Welcome your four-legged friend’s kisses again by brushing up on their dental health. Follow our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team’s dental care tips, ensuring good oral health from each tooth’s root to its crown.

Regularly check your pet’s mouth for dental disease signs

Pets are great at hiding many things, especially pain and illness, so you may not realize your furry pal has dental disease without taking a close look inside their mouth. Each day, lift your pet’s lips and look along the gumline for inflammation signs, and gum recession or bleeding. Check the teeth for brown, yellow, or grey plaque and tartar accumulation, and search for cracks, chips, fractures, or loose teeth. If your pet is amenable, open their mouth and examine their tongue, palate, and other oral tissues for abnormalities such as ulcers or masses.

If your pet has moderate or severe dental disease, they may exhibit changes in their eating, drinking, and chewing habits. Oral pain can result in chewing on one side of the mouth, dropping food while eating, refusing hard food and treats, and avoiding cold water. You may also notice blood on your pet’s chew toys or in their water dish. By checking your pet’s mouth daily, or weekly at a minimum, you’ll be able to spot early dental disease signs and seek treatment.

Add at-home dental care to your daily schedule

You brush and floss your teeth every day, and your pet also needs daily dental care. Daily toothbrushing is ideal, but many pets will not tolerate it, so round out your furry pal’s at-home oral health care regimen with the following products:

  • Dental chews
  • Dental treats
  • Food and water additives
  • Tooth wipes, gels, or sprays
  • Prescription dental diets

While you don’t have to give your pet every dental care product, these items can help fill gaps in your toothbrushing schedule. Determining which products are most effective for your pet typically means determining which are the easiest to administer, and ensures you use the product regularly. For example, if your pet thrashes and flails when they see the oral spray bottle, opt for an enzyme-based food additive that can easily be mixed with their canned food.

Choose dental care products designed to improve your pet’s oral health

Not all dental care products are created equal, regardless of what a product’s packaging claims. Products that will truly improve your pet’s oral health have the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s (VOHC) seal of acceptance. VOHC-approved products have proven their plaque and tartar reduction claims. When you use a product that has the VOHC seal on its label, rest assured knowing that the item can effectively slow your pet’s dental disease development and progression.

Avoid anesthesia-free dentistry for your pet

If you spot tartar buildup on your pet’s teeth, you may be tempted to purchase scaling tools and tackle that dental calculus yourself, or take your pet for an anesthesia-free dental cleaning. Although you may hesitate to have your pet receive anesthesia for something as “simple” as a professional dental cleaning, general anesthesia is crucial for preventing your furry pal’s stress, fear, pain, and injury potential. Additionally, anesthesia allows our veterinary team to perform a comprehensive oral evaluation, scale away plaque and tartar above and below the gumline, and extract diseased or damaged teeth when necessary. 

If your pet does not receive anesthesia during a dental cleaning, they will experience fear and discomfort as a stranger opens their mouth and uses sharp tools to scrape away tartar. Anesthesia-free dentals are simply cosmetic, only removing visible tartar above the gumline. However, up to 60% of the tooth structure lies below the gumline, and scaling under the gums is not feasible without anesthesia.

If your furry pal’s breath isn’t kissably fresh—or at least tolerable—they likely need a professional dental cleaning. Schedule your pet’s comprehensive oral exam and dental cleaning with our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team.