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Your pet needs dental care

I’m often asked how to best care for a pet’s teeth (and improve their breath). If you brush your pet’s teeth every day, you will vastly improve their dental hygiene, as well as their overall health and wellness.

When inflamed and red, a pet’s gingiva (the gums) is like an open sore in their mouth — and that can be terribly uncomfortable. Tartar harbors bacteria that, when allowed to sit on the gumline, increases inflammation and gingivitis. If you can break up and remove that film daily, you will significantly improve your pet’s oral health.

Be sure to use a toothpaste designed for pets, as they will swallow it. If toothbrushing just isn’t possible, other options include dental diets designed to decrease tartar accumulation, oral rinses designed for pets (they don’t spit) and water additives.

While many people allow their pets to chew bones to help with oral health, these are very hard and the number one cause of broken teeth, especially back molars. For this reason, I do not recommend them.

If your pet’s teeth or gums are already unhealthy, it’s best to have a professional cleaning before starting home care, as you don’t want toothbrushing time to be painful.

Preventing dental decay is much better than dealing with infected teeth and certainly more comfortable for your beloved pet. Ask your veterinary professionals for guidance.


In partnership with Willamette Veterinary Hospital

& Ark Animal Hospital

Jilinda Lewis, DVM

Ark Animal Hospital


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