Southlane Veterinary Hospital

1259 South Sturdy Road
Valparaiso, IN 46383


stock image of dog and cat

Dental Care for your Pet - FAQ's


What You Need to Know to Keep Your Pet's Mouth Healthy !!!


Many people have questions about how to keep their pet's breath fresh and their teeth clean, and we hope this information will help!

The following text and links explain why your pet has bad breath and yucky looking teeth, how to examine your pet's mouth, and ...what steps you can take to keep their mouth healthy.



3 dogs walkingI love my pet, but OMG their breath is aweful! What's going on inside their mouth?

The short answer; Periodontal Disease (periodontitis).
Pets generally do not get cavities like we do, but they do get gum disease, or periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth infections and eventually tooth loss. So, here's what happens. After your pet eats, a soft plaque starts to accumulate on their teeth. If not removed, the plaque slowly hardens into tartar (calculus). The tartar builds up until it eventually pushes against the gumline resulting in inflamed, sore gums and bacterial infection. If not removed, the gums recede exposing the tooth roots and eventually tooth loss.
Here's a link describing the process:  Periodontal Disease in Pets

   picture of stages of periodontal disease

OK so, how do I check my pet's teeth for Periodontal Disease?  image of puppy and kitten

Working from one side and using your thumb, gently push the corner of your pet's mouth back and up towards their ear. The gums should be pink, flat, and smooth. There should be little to no brownish accumulations on the teeth. Check their breath as well. It may not be minty-fresh, but it shouldn't curl your nostril hairs either!

Here's is a good link detailing things to watch for when you're checking the mouth: Clinical Signs of Oral or Dental Disease in Pets
photo of inside canine's mouth                                                                                                                            stock photo of dog with toothbrush and toothpaste

Well, I took a peek at my pet's mouth and there's definitely some tartar on her teeth. There is a red line along the gums, and geez, is her breath bad! Does she need a dental cleaning?

Most likely, Yes!
But, don't worry. Most early stages of periodontal disease clean up nicely. And, the good news is that with regular home care (...such as weekly brushing)  your pet may not need a dental cleaning any time soon, ...if at all!
Here's a link that details what you might expect if your pet needs dental care: Dental Care and What to Expect if your Pet Needs It
photo of plaque buildup on dog's teeth                                                                                                                                stock photo of dog with toothbrush


Yellow CatAre there any particular concerns with CATS and dental disease?

Great question, and the answer is ...Yes, there are!

Cats get Periodontal Disease just like dogs, but they can also have particular problems with Gingivitis, and occasionally develop Tooth Resorption, which is somewhat similar to a cavity that we might develop. 
Here's a link to learn more about Cat Dental Disease
                                                                                                                                                   photo of cat with toothbrush