Dental Care at Home

“Doggie breath” is NOT normal and may indicated significant dental disease. Pets with healthy mouths will not have offensive breath. While dogs and cats do not normally develop cavities, they are prone to periodontal disease associated with plaque buildup.

All pets should have yearly and sometimes bi-yearly dental exams performed by a veterinarian. In addition,establishing a consistent at-home dental routine, aides in your pet’s overall health and quality of life. Home dental routines usually incorporate the following keys:

1) Brushing is best. Nothing beats brushing for controlling plaque build up in the mouth. Every other day brushing of your pet’s teeth with a soft toothbrush will help lessen the amount of bacteria in the mouth that leads to plaque.

Get your pet used to the brush by first introducing the toothbrush with flavored pet toothpaste 2-3 times a day. Let them lick the paste off to get used to the flavor. Once they are used to licking the paste, then try brushing the teeth lightly while the pet is licking the brush. Gradually you can start lightly restraining your pet and initiate more vigorous brushing. You only need to brush the outside surfaces, there is no need to clean the inside of the teeth, as the inside surfaces are difficult to reach even in the most compliant of pets. Tutorials are available online on the American Veterinary Medical Association youtube channel “Dental Health: How to brush your pet’s teeth.”

2) Dental Diets. While not in any way a substitute for brushing, several dental diets have been shown to decrease the rate of calculus and plaque formation. Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d and Hill’s Science Diet Oral Care work to prevent varying degrees of calculus and plaque formation. These diets are nutritionally balanced and can be fed exclusively.

3) Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved products. There are many products that are marketed as “dental” products that have no research to support their claims. VOHC approved products meet a pre-set standard for plaque and calculus prevention in dogs and cats. Some newer products on the market that are only available through veterinarians, do not yet have the VOHC seal but have the research behind them to show that they are very effective in the prevention of plaque buildup.

A multi-faceted approach to your pet’s oral hygiene is the best way to achieve plaque control. For example, regular brushing combined with a daily water additive and Greenies Veterinary Formula Dental Chews incorporated into your pet’s routine. is an excellent way to prevent the formation of plaque and slow the progression of periodontal disease.