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How Often to Clean Your Cat or Dog's Teeth | BetterVet

As pet parents, we all want to do what's best for our pets and keep them healthy, from their noses to their tails to their toes! But juggling all that responsibility isn't always easy, and finding out what your pet needs can be tricky, especially when there's so much unreliable information out there. Let's find out what you need to know about dog dental health and cat dental care.


Why Should You Clean Your Pet’s Teeth?

As humans, we’re used to brushing our teeth regularly. This doesn’t just keep our breath fresh, it also reduces bacteria and breaks up the biofilm on the teeth which causes plaque. It’s just the same for cats and dogs – they both need regular dental care to keep their teeth, gums, and mouth healthy. But, how would you know if your dog or cat had poor dental health?


What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?

The symptoms of periodontal disease are similar in cats and dogs. They might stop eating, drop food, or show signs other signs of mouth pain like pawing at their face or vocalizing. You might notice a horrible smell from their mouth, and they might be particularly drooly. If you manage to look in their mouth, their teeth might look discolored, and you might see some tartar covering the enamel. The teeth might be visibly wobbly, and you might be able to see the roots of the teeth. Thankfully, with good dental care, you can prevent periodontal disease and improve your cat or dog's dental health. But how often do cats and dogs need their teeth cleaned?


How Often Do Dogs Need Their Teeth Cleaned?

Brushing your dog's teeth or taking other actions to prevent plaque regularly is really important to improve your dog’s dental health. Of course, in an ideal world, you'd brush your dog's teeth after every meal, or at least twice a day. However, this isn't necessarily practical! Therefore, brushing your dog's teeth daily or every other day is a good compromise. Unfortunately, brushing your dog's teeth less frequently than every 3 days makes very little difference compared to not doing it at all. 


How Often Do Cats Need Their Teeth Cleaned?

Cats are affected by a few more causes of dental disease than dogs, but many can be improved with regular tooth brushing or alternative cat dental care methods. Again, you should brush your cat’s teeth at least every other day, and daily if you can. However, if you find that your cat is resisting toothbrushing it might be that they're painful, so it might be best to book a checkup with one of our vets.


What Should You Do If You Can’t Clean Your Pet’s Teeth?

If you can't clean your pet's teeth, despite your best efforts, don’t worry. While toothbrushing is by far the most effective method of improving your cat or dog's dental health, there are some alternatives. Ask your veterinary team about the various dental gels, rinses, and water supplements that might help. In addition to toothbrushing and other plaque-fighting products, giving your cat or dog dental chews, dry food, or prescription dental food diets can help to reduce tartar buildup. On the other hand, many dental treats are high in fat, and you should never give your dog or cat bones or solid chews that could cause damage to their teeth, mouths, or guts.


When Should You Contact a Vet?

If your cat or dog is acting ill, is not eating, or is losing weight, it’s best to get in contact with a veterinarian to schedule a checkup. If your pet’s dental disease is relatively mild, a scale and polish and professional dental cleaning could prevent any permanent damage. Therefore, it’s worth checking your furry friend’s mouth regularly for signs of any issues so that you catch the process early. Once the dental disease becomes more advanced, the changes are irreversible and, sadly, the teeth may fall out or require extraction.

Dog and cat dental care might seem impractical, but it’s essential to keeping your pet’s teeth and gums in good shape. With a bit of guidance, you’ll probably find it’s not as hard as you thought, and it’s worth it to keep your pet feeling pain-free. If your cat or dog’s teeth aren’t improving despite your home care, book an appointment with one of our team so that we can help get their sparkling smile back!


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to brush my dog’s teeth every day?

If you can brush your dog's teeth every day, this is the most effective way of preventing plaque buildup on their teeth. However, even brushing every other day will have benefits for your dog's dental health.


How often should I brush my cat’s teeth?

It's best to brush your cat's teeth daily if you can. Using other plaque-fighting products daily is a good alternative, though, if you are unable to get close enough to brush them!


Is it okay to not brush my dog’s teeth?

Toothbrushing is the most effective way to keep your dog's teeth healthy. However, there are some rare instances where it is nearly impossible. If you can't brush your dog's teeth, speak to your vet about other products that could be useful in reducing plaque. If this fails too, a scale and polish with one of our veterinary team might be required regularly.


Can you brush your dog’s teeth too much?

It's unlikely that you would brush your dog's teeth too much, although more frequently after meals is unnecessary. It's important to make sure the toothbrush you're using isn't too firm though and check for signs of bleeding or inflamed gums after brushing.