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Preventing Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats

This article originally appeared on my ongoing series of articles for Flexcin International, Inc as Preventing Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats

Although February is Pet Dental Health Month, it’s vital that pet owners take measures to promote their pets’ best dental health all year round.  Like our own teeth, our pets’ teeth are just as susceptible to disease and other issues.  Take these proactive steps towards proper dental health and ensure your dog or cat can keep its beautiful smile for years to come.


Along with obesity, Periodontal Disease is one of most common diseases diagnosed in veterinary clinical practices. Like obesity, it’s also a preventable disease that can potentially have irreversible and life threatening consequences.


Periodontal Disease is Preventable

The best practice to prevent Periodontal Disease from happening is to be proactive with your pets’ dental health before bad breath or other associated health issues (tooth lossheartkidney, orliver disease, etc) affect your pet.

More than 80 percent of pets in the U.S. experience gum disease by age three.

- Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI)

To provide the most relevant advice for my Flexcin Blog readers from an expert in the speciality field of veterinary dentistry, I contacted Anson Tsugawa VMD, DACVD, of the Dog and Cat Dentist, who recommends:

1. Dental Cleaning

“When having your pet's teeth professionally cleaned, expect more than merely a simple process akin to a tooth version of a car wash and detail.  While under anesthesia for the cleaning, request dental radiographs (X-rays).  Without the addition of this important oral diagnostic test, the veterinary professional will be unable to assess the bone level around the teeth; an important criteria in determining a tooth's periodontal disease status and what treatment beyond cleaning is necessary (e.g., periodontal surgery or extractions).”

“Furthermore, in cats, dental radiographs are important in screening for a painful disease known as tooth resorption; a condition for which all adult cats should be evaluated.”

2. Tooth Brushing

“Tooth brushing, ideally, should be performed daily. We recommend using a traditional flat profile toothbrush, and if a paste (dentifrice) is used, choose a veterinary product.  Human toothpaste contains fluoride and foaming agents that may be toxic or upsetting to your pet's gastrointestinal tract if ingested.”

“It is not necessary to use a paste, although the flavoring (e.g., poultry, beef, etc.) may be helpful in encouraging good behavior when brushing. If your dog/cat chews on the brush in an attempt to eat the paste, then use a water-moistened brush and offer a small amount of paste as a treat after brushing”.

“Regarding brushing technique, we recommend directing the bristles of the brush at a 45-degree angle angled toward the gumline and using a horizontal motion.  Strive for efficiency by brushing sets of teeth (for example, all six incisors as one set, canines and premolars as another set, etc).”

“Lastly, avoid simply rushing-up to your pet and ripping open the mouth to brush. Instead, gently lift your pet's lip and introduce the brush head into the mouth.”

3. Dental Treats

“Treats such as hard plastic bones, sterilized real bones, ice cubes, cow hooves, antlers, bully sticks are too hard for your pet and may cause tooth fractures. Dental treats that have received the Registered Seal by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) are recommended.”

My Dog / Cat already has Periodontal Disease

Every day presents the opportunity to promote pet periodontal health through tooth brushing.  Seek your veterinarian’s guidance to establish the best plan to resolve existing periodontal disease.  Ultimately, our pet’s quality of life and longevity depends on your involvement in their dental care.


Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).

Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2012) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.



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