Pet Dentistry

A trip to the dentist remains just as important–and likely just as unbearable–for cats and dogs as for humans. Maintaining good oral health, however, is vital for pets and relatively easy to do. At Elmhurst Animal Care Center, veterinarians and trained technicians show dog and cat owners how to brush their animals’ teeth and what kinds of special food and chew bones reduce the risk of gum disease.

While dogs and cats prove less susceptible to conditions such as cavities and root decay, they remain vulnerable to periodontitis or infection of the gums. The result may mean painful, inflamed gums or loss of teeth for a pet if left untreated. In some cases, bacteria from the infection may enter the animal’s bloodstream, causing organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys to suffer and create an even greater problem. Common symptoms of periodontal disease include bad breath, red or swollen gums, crusty and yellowish tarter buildup along the gum line, missing teeth, and difficulty in eating. Other common dental injuries among pets include broken teeth, particularly for dogs that regularly chew on hard bones or other objects, and resorptive lesions for cats, a dental disease that roughly 28 percent of felines experience once in their lives.

Eliminating the dangers of periodontal disease and other gum and teeth infections and injuries requires just a few simple precautions. First, puppies and kittens should undergo a complete dental exam with a qualified veterinarian by the time they reach one year of age. The visit should include an ultrasonic scaling, tooth polishing, and fluoride treatment. Annual vet cleanings should take place afterward, while daily brushing can be done at home. Ask a veterinarian how to brush a cat or dog’s teeth and discuss what kinds of food, chew toys, and bones the animal should receive. For more information, log on to or watch the following video: