dental disease prevention


Dog and cat dental health can be very tricky and surprising for many pet parents. When we don’t know the importance of proper pet dental care, our dogs and cats can suffer from pain and discomfort. Sadly, dental diseases are common in pets and can occur as early as 2-3 years of age.

The root cause of these dental issues is, more or less, poor oral hygiene. Pet parents tend to be ill informed and do not practice proper dog and cat dental health requirements such as brushing one’s teeth regularly, giving cat and dog dental health treats and more. So, what happens when we don’t practice proper pet dental care?


Common Dental Diseases in Pets

1. Plaque and Tartar

First off, plaque and tartar don’t just appear out of nowhere. Instead, plaque forms and accumulates due mixture of bacteria from leftover food and saliva. It is a is a colorless film that harbors bacteria on the teeth and eventually builds up. When buildup of plaque hardens, it is called tartar. The tartar, also known as calculus, is calcified deposits on the teeth by mineral salts and adheres firmly to the tooth’s surface, which appear as yellow or brown.


2. Bad Breath

When plaque and tartar build up in the mouth, it is highly likely that your pet has bad breath too. Bad breath in dogs and cats are very common and serve as the first indicator that your furbaby may be suffering from an underlying disease. Learn more about pets with bad breath here

It’s never too late to get educated on pet dental health diseases to know what you can do and how you can prevent them. Your furbaby will surely love you forever and ever for learning more on pet dental care just for him or her!


3. Gingivitis

Gingivitis is considered the early stage of periodontal disease. It is the inflammation of the gums, caused by the buildup of plaque. Plaque moves towards the gingival margin, the area where the gingiva and the base of the tooth meet, causing severe inflammation of the oral soft tissues.



  1. Thin, red line along the gums
  2. Swollen gums
  3. Bad breath
  4. Plaque buildup
  5. Stained teeth
  6. Tartar buildup
  7. Bleeding gums
  8. Pus
  9. Pain around the mouth
  10. Difficulty eating
  11. Reluctance to eat
  12. Drooling
  13. Loose teeth
  14. Receding gums




Main causes: poor oral hygiene. When food gets stuck, the bacteria tends to build up and cause inflammation and irritation. Hence, the need for regular teeth cleaning, at home and professionally. Gingivitis usually starts near the gum line, but can affect any part of the mouth, hard palate, throat, tongue and cheeks. Other predisposing factors and causes include:

  1. Poor diet
  2. Old age
  3. Overcrowding of teeth
  4. Bad chewing habits
  5. Uremia and diabetes mellitus
  6. Autoimmune diseases
  7. FeLV (Feline Leukemia)
  8. FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)




A physical exam of your dog and cat will be performed to determine the severity of his gingivitis. Luckily, gingivitis is considered mild and can be reversed if handled properly and immediately. Here are some ways you can manage and treat gingivitis:

  1. Professional and home dental cleaning
  2. Teeth scaling of teeth
  3. Gingivectomy
  4. Oral antibiotics
  5. Dietary management
  6. Chew treats and toys for dental health 

If not left untreated or mismanaged, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis.


4. Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is one of the most common pet dental diseases. It occurs when tartar accumulates in the gumline, causing a bacterial infection in the mouth. Furbabies who suffer from periodontal disease tend to suffer from chronic pain and more.



Almost always, no symptoms of gum disease will manifest in pets at first and pet parents tend to find out when it's already severe. The hardest part - your furbaby won't want you to know he's in pain, so he will try to conceal whatever pain or discomfort he's feeling. Keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  1. Bad breath
  2. Red, swollen or bleeding gums
  3. Difficulty chewing
  4. Weight loss
  5. Trouble chewing
  6. Yellowing or browning teeth
  7. Loose or missing teeth



The main culprit: plaque. The bacteria in plaque are considered foreign by the body, which triggers white blood cells to attack and break down the gum tissue. This results in inflamed gums, destroyed tissue and tooth loss.


Treatment and Prevention

Luckily, periodontal disease can be prevented, treated and even, reversed if detected early. However, severe cases are close to impossible to treat.


5. Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption is unlike other pet dental diseases as its cause is completely unknown. It looks similar to cavities and develops at the pet’s neck. According to Blue Pearl Vet, it manifests as painful erosions in the surface of the tooth and/or bony replacement of the roots.

According to petmd, below are the primary types of inflammation:

  1. Ulcerative Stomatitis: This condition occurs when a significant amount of gum tissue is lost in a dog's mouth and is frequently accompanied by inflammation of the oral tissues.
  2. Oral Eosinophilic Granuloma: This condition occurs when there is a mass or growth in the dog's mouth.
  3. Gingival Hyperplasia: This condition occurs when gum tissue increases in size.
  4. Lypohocytic Plasmocytic: This condition is characterized by the presence of plasma cells and lymphocytes in the mouth – each are types of white blood cells.



  1. Manifestation of muscular spasms
  2. Trembling of jaw
  3. Increased salivation
  4. Oral bleeding
  5. Difficulty eating
  6. Accumulation of tartar
  7. Gingival inflammation
  8. Change in behavior



To determine the severity and the treatment, your furbaby's veterinarian will require a radiograph (X-ray). Unfortunately, tooth resorption is progressive. It’s best for pet parents to find the appropriate treatment and seek the right home remedies for pet dental care.

  1. Tooth extraction
  2. Root canal therapy


6. Stomatitis

Stomatitis is the inflammation of gums, tongue and mouth are irritated and inflamed. Stomatitis can occur in all dogs and cats, but some breeds may be more prone than others. For cats, breeds such as Himalayans, Persians and Somalis, while dog breeds such as Greyhounds, Miniature Schnauzers, Labrador Retrievers and Maltese.



The exact cause of stomatitis is unknown.

  1. Allergies
  2. Reaction to medication
  3. Response to an underlying infection



  1. Bad breath
  2. Red and inflamed gums
  3. Difficulty in eating and swallowing
  4. Bloody saliva
  5. Loss of appetite
  6. Weight loss
  7. Excessive drooling
  8. Lesions on gums
  9. Pawing at mouth
  10. Reluctance to groom



Deciding on the type of treatment will depend on the stage. Your veterinarian should perform an oral examination to establish the next steps for diagnosis and treatment. It is possible that he recommends

  1. Tooth extraction
  2. Antibiotics
  3. Professional and regular dental cleaning
  4. Immunosuppressant Drugs
  5. Steroid treatment


Pet Dental Health Prevention

Don’t wait for your furbaby to suffer from a dental disease and always keep in mind that treatment will only go so far. So, don’t go looking for alternatives to pet teeth cleaning because this is an absolute must.

As pet parents, it’s important that you invest in pet dental health care and regularly practice good oral hygiene on your pets, namely:

  1. Schedule an annual checkup with the veterinarian
  2. Practice regular dental care at home
  3. Provide only quality pet food
  4. Invest in cat and dog dental health chews


Dog and cat dental health is very important. Take the right steps in preventing any kind of disease or even any discomfort in your pet’s life. You’ll love having a healthy and happy furbaby around you all day, every day!


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