Dental care for pets

Dental care for pets is of high importance to their every day care. You brush your teeth every day, that comes natural to you. But when it comes to brushing our pets teeth it seems that a high majority of us forget to do so. It is actually believed that 38% of dog owners do not brush their dogs teeth at all, 44% of dog owners occasionally brush their dogs teeth, and only 18% brush at least once a week.

Dental care for pets reduces the risk of diseases such as; periodontal disease, gingivitis, gum problems and even digestion problems. Dental problems that are undiagnosed can lead to pain, and more complications that can lead to being fatal. Generally speaking, pain, discomfort and bad breath are almost certainly your common symptoms to look for. This is the case of veteran staff pet, Poppy. The lovely Poppy has featured on many posts in the past, as her owner, Graham, has been part of our Orchard family for 8 years now. Poppy is a Border Terrier and recently turned 11 years old, so she is an older girl! She recently came in for a dental and she is a perfect example of what we have already discussed above!

This is Poppy’s teeth just days before her dental procedure.

Poppy’s teeth post dental

So, Poppy. Let’s hear your story! We will be speaking to her owner, her vet, and Poppy herself!


“Poppy had smelly breath for around two months prior to her dental. We brushed her teeth weekly (or close to!) for most of her life. She has also had two ‘scale and polish’ procedures in her lifetime. Visually, her teeth looked okay. Perhaps a small amount of plaque here and there, so the cause of the smell was not obvious at first. She saw Jack who noted she perhaps had slight inflammation in her gum so she had a course of anti-biotics. As suspected by Jack, the smell went away, but came back. This is an indication that further investigation is needed. Other than a bad smell, we noticed Poppy had started licking quite a bit, or more than normal anyway. She is a tough little Terrier, so she didn’t show obvious signs of pain. This where I’ll hand it over to Jack to explain in more depth, as I’m not a vet, and she is only a little Border Terrier, and neither of us are a member of the royal college for veterinary surgeons!


“We often tell clients that we do not know what we will find in dental surgery until the patient is under anaesthetic and Poppy has well and truly followed this rule. Poppy presented for smelly breath and aside from a build up of calculus no obvious problems were seen on a conscious examination. We decided that a dental procedure would be the best plan of action. We recommend blood tests for all patients going under anaesthetic, but this is a greater importance in more senior dogs. Poppy’s bloods were all fine, so we booked her in for a dental investigation under sedation.

Six unstable incisors were identified immediately, which had not been possible to examine when Poppy was conscious.

After cleaning and looking over the teeth with a dental probe several x-rays were taken and resorptive disease was identified in several of Poppy’s teeth. This is an uncommon condition in dogs where Poppy’s body starts dissolving the hard minerals of the teeth. Resorptive disease becomes painful when the dentine and pulp cavity is exposed and pathology can be found far beneath the gum line affecting the roots. Poppy’s condition was relatively advanced and the roots of the affected teeth had almost completely become part of the bone.

In the first session we removed nine teeth. All of the teeth removed would have been causing Poppy pain and she is much better after having had them removed. We would not have been able to find and treat these teeth without an examination under anaesthetic. Back to Poppy!”


“My teeth were pretty much white and looked okay, but I had smelly breath. I really thought it would be a simple case of maybe a chipped tooth and a good clean being needed. Even though I was in pain, I can’t tell anyone that so luckily my mum and dad knew the signs to look for, and took me to see Uncle Jack. I had 9 teeth taken out in total, and as this is a lengthy procedure so I need to return for the second part of my dental, which will be soon! I was eating okay, and drinking okay, and showing no signs of pain. So if I had not gone under sedation and Uncle Jack having a thorough look in my mouth I would still be suffering silently, with smelly breath! It got to the point that no-one wanted to be near my face, which was horrible for me, as I am a licker!! – Here are a couple of images of my x-rays, and my teeth after my dental operation!”.


Dental care for pets

Following these guidelines is a great way to help your pet prevent the need for dental surgery!

  • Brush your dogs teeth at least every couple of days with a dog tooth brush and dog safe toothpaste.
  • A good diet! – Just like in humans, this is important in dental care for pets.
  • Dog chews – Firstly, be aware that many dog dental chews are high in calories, so adjust your dogs dinner intake if giving a dental chew! We sell low calorie chews in our practices and they are great to help keep plaque down.
  • Avoid hard bones / chews – These can easily chip a tooth, or wear down your dogs teeth.
  • Consult your vet – During your pets booster vaccination, your vet will always conduct a routine health check. This includes your dogs teeth. However, a lot can happen in a year, so we recommend at least seeing your vet every 6 months. Vets will always recommend dental care for pets, and this is because they see many cases like Poppy’s where she appears in no pain and her teeth look okay, but underneath that is a procedure that is lengthy!
  • Well Pet Club – The easiest way to do this is to join our Well Pet Club. Your pets annual vaccination is included, with a health check, and then a six month health check!
  • External information – Animmed have a great link here which has a bit more information.

To summarise: 

Dental care for pets is very important. Dental procedures are among some of the most lengthy operations seen in a veterinary practice, and therefore can often be more expensive. Sometimes operations can’t be avoided, we all know that, but keeping on top of dental care for pets will help reduce the risks further down the line.