Should you brush your pet’s teeth?

It’s the age-old question – to clean or not to clean your pet’s teeth?

Okay, maybe it’s not an age-old question, but it is something RSPCA Victoria vets get asked almost daily! Time to settle the facts – should you really brush your pet’s teeth? 


Why is dental health forgotten about?

Before we talk solutions, let’s understand the problem. Most people have forgotten their annual visit to the dentist before. Sometimes, a few years might pass before you finally book that appointment. But by then it’s too late - you might have gingivitis or you need ANOTHER filling, and the bill is so expensive it makes your eyes water a little.

Pet dental health is also often forgotten about. Without regular dental care, your pet’s teeth can deteriorate rapidly. Before you know it, you are met with a whopping vet bill and wondering what you could have done to prevent it. Last year, more than 450 cats and dogs had their teeth removed due to dental problems at RSPCA Victoria clinics.

Why is dental health important?

Dental disease is one of the most common ailments seen by vets. In fact, 80% of dogs begin to show signs of dental disease by age three.

It often appears in the form of periodontal disease, gingivitis and neck lesions. Just like many human dental problems, these diseases are caused by a build-up of tartar on the gums and teeth, which can be easily identified by its light or dark brown colour.

The accumulation of tartar and bacteria can lead to infection and gingivitis, which if left untreated can lead to periodontal disease, destroying the bones and ligaments of teeth resulting in tooth loss. Infection may also spread deep into the tooth socket creating an abscess, or even more severe problems. It’s grim stuff!

Bad breath is a key sign something is wrong with your pet’s teeth and gums. Other things to watch out for include:

  • Decreased interest in food
  • Chewing with obvious discomfort
  • Dropping food from their mouth
  • Dribbling
  • Mouth pawing
  • Head shaking
  • Weight loss

So… should I brush my pet’s teeth?

Okay, okay! We know you want to know the answer, and yes, brushing your pet’s teeth is a wonderful way to keep their dental health in check. A good daily (or weekly) brushing will help remove plaque build-up and prevent calcification and tartar development. As you can imagine, adult cats and dogs can be fairly resistant to having their teeth brushed so it’s a good idea to start when they are young if possible. You can use our oral care kits or try these tasty chicken or beef flavoured toothpastes to make it an enjoyable experience.

There are a number of other ways to protect your pet’s teeth:

  • A diet that consists of foods that provide physical resistance when they chew, like dry foods or special treats.
  • Add a teeth cleaning additive to your dog’s water bowl to naturally defend against plaque and tartar.
  • Use teeth cleaning foam to support enamel production and fresh smelling breath.
  • Visit your vet for annual check-ups. This is super important as your vet will check the health of your pet’s teeth and provide guidance on how to keep them in tip top shape.

To celebrate Pet Dental Month (August 2021), RSPCA Victoria’s online store has 30% off all dental products and 20% of oral care food. It’s never too late to start looking after your pet’s teeth. Trust us, you’ll save your pet a lot of discomfort, and yourself a lot of money in the long run!