Keep Your Pet’s Teeth Clean at Home

Just like humans, our furry friends require regular dental checkups and cleanings to ensure the prevention of disease and infection. However, as pet owners, there are also several things you can do to provide at-home dental care for your pets.

Visual Check

You should check your pet’s mouth at least once a week, looking for signs of swollen or bleeding gums, which can be signs of gingivitis, brown buildup on teeth (plaque/tartar), or abnormal lumps, bumps or swellings. Make sure to examine the back teeth and molars by lifting the lip and exposing the outside surfaces of the teeth. Also, check the color of your pet’s gums. Healthy gums should be shiny and pink. White or dark red gums can be signs of infection or gum disease.

Brush Their Teeth

Of course, the most important thing to do for your pet is to brush their teeth at home. You can watch a video here on how to do that, just be sure to use specially formulated pet toothpaste. The fluoride in regular toothpaste can irritate your pet’s digestive system.

Try and choose a time when your pet has had a decent amount of exercise, so he’s more inclined to sit still for the procedure. Don’t overdo it the first few times. Start slowly and quit if your pet gets agitated, even if you don’t brush the whole mouth. You can increase the time every day as he gets used to it. Also, be sure to praise your pet frequently during the brushing and reward your pet with a treat afterwards. The ASPCA has some great tips on getting your pet used to the process here


Mechanical removal of plaque can be accomplished by using toys such as Plaque Attacker dental toys, rope toys, Kongs, or rawhide chips. Do not use toys that are abrasive and can wear down the teeth. You may need to look for toys he cannot get his mouth around. Rawhide or other chews that soften as the dog chews are another option. Always supervise your dog when he is chewing on a toy.


Several “dental diets” have been shown to be of benefit in decreasing dental disease. Some employ a specific kibble design and other include a chemical anti-tartar ingredient. There are some dental chews and treats on the market that are specifically designed to help control plaque and tartar buildup. Ask your vet for a recommendation.

Oral Rinse and Gel

Chlorhexidine is an effective anti-plaque antiseptic that binds to the oral tissues and tooth surfaces and is gradually released into the oral cavity. The rinse is applied by squirting a small amount inside the cheek on each side of the mouth. The gel is applied by smearing it onto the teeth. If your pet has severe plaque issues, this is an option you can discuss with your vet.

Warning Signs

If your pet shows any of these signs of periodontal disease, be sure to get them in to see your vet right away.

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inflamed gums
  • Tumors in the gums
  • Cysts under the tongue
  • Loose teeth

Dental health is the most over looked area in pet health. By having a healthy and proactive dental health routine, you can keep your companion in excellent oral health and also prevent more serious health problems like kidney, heart, and lung disease. Dental hygiene is just as important for our pets as it is for us. Call your veterinarian today and set up a dental hygiene appointment at (262) 728-8622.