One of the most frequently discussed topics here at My Vet – Waterloo is dental hygiene and oral care. There are so many things you can do to help look after your pet’s teeth! Yet, up to 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of dental disease by the time they are three years old.

Does your pet have dental disease? Sometimes it can be hard to tell! Even the best, most loving pet owners might not realise their pet has dental disease! And, just as in humans, dental disease is painful! Worse still, dental disease is related to systemic disease!

Here are some tips on what you can do to help keep your pet’s smile bright and healthy.

Brush Your Pet’s Teeth!

We know it sounds crazy, but if your pet will allow it, brushing your pet’s teeth is the BEST thing you can do! You can buy a pet toothbrush that fits over your finger and pet toothpaste that tastes like chicken or beef. (Don’t use human toothpaste! They frequently contain ingredients toxic to pets.)

You can get your pet used to tooth-brushing by starting with gentle gum rub. Then, work up to a slightly more vigorous brushing. You can even see a video here!

Feed Dry Food

Dry food (rather than wet or canned) helps prevent plaque and tartar build-up by scraping against the tooth. For pets (and their parents) who need extra help, a prescription dental diet like Hill’s t/d can be really helpful. These biscuits are designed for your pet has to chew through, which scrapes tartar right off. It also has special additives in the food to help reduce tartar and plaque from building up.


Dental Chews

When it comes to dental chews, make sure that the product you buy is Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) approved. There are so many on the market, you may as well buy the one that works.

There are only two chews that are VOHC approved in Australia. That’s OraVet and Greenies.

OraVet comes with an additional ingredient, delmopinol, which is an additive that prevents plaque from sticking to the teeth. This makes it easier for plaque to be removed whether with the chew itself, dry food, or with brushing. I like to think of it as having toothpaste built into a toothbrush that tastes like vanilla cookies.

Greenies work in a similar way. The manufacturers claim to have studied the biomechanics of a bite, so you get more out of every chew. The VOHC agrees and has given them the seal of acceptance for plaque control.

“Oh my gosh! For ME?” (Source:

We recommend bones with caution. Your pet probably loves them, but bones that are too hard can break teeth…which can be really painful and are often more trouble than they’re worth. Read our blog about raw bones here!

“Mouth Wash”

I really like Healthy Mouth, a water additive that helps prevent plaque build-up and reduce inflammation. Your pet can have a choice between the Original flavour, Wagyu, Peanut Butter, and Blueberry. It is the only water additive that is approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)!

One other option to consider is Hexarinse, which is a lot more like our mouthwash than HealthyMouth is. Instead of being added to water, you rinse your pet’s mouth out with Hexarinse. Hexarinse tastes/smells like oranges, so some pets don’t mind it too much. Every pet is an individual though!

My favourite way to use Hexarinse is on a cotton pad. I rub the cotton pad on each tooth in a gentle circular motion. The agents in Hexarinse disrupt biofilm and kill bacteria. It’s not as good as tooth-brushing but, I find, it’s a lot more tolerable for cats.

Regular scale and polish

Homecare is indispensable. However, a regular scale and polish is still necessary to keep teeth sparkling white and clean and healthy!

We humans get a scale and polish pretty regularly, your pet is no different. The procedure is a lot more common than you might think! A dental scale and polish is the only way to remove the plaque and tartar build-up on your pet’s teeth. We not only make the teeth look fantastic by scaling all that gunk off, we also check the gums thoroughly to make sure there are no problems brewing. Then, we polish the teeth to make it harder for plaque to stick (and to give him minty fresh breath).

A full general anaesthetic is necessary for a scale and polish. This is the safest way to perform a scale and polish. Sometimes, while they’re under anaesthetic, we detect problems we may have missed on the physical exam. When this happens, we can take teeth out while they’re still asleep and make them feel much, much better.

It is very important for your pet’s teeth to be checked frequently (at least once a year) and to have them cleaned necessary. That will ensure your little friend has a healthy smile – and fresh breath! – for years to come.

Keep smiling and help your pet flash that Hollywood smile! Remember, if you have any questions, give us a call and one of our pawesome staff members would be more than happy to help.

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