Do you have a family pet? A cat or a dog? Or maybe even a rabbit or two? If you do, do you do anything for their mouth and their teeth? Maybe a dental chew every now and then? While beneficial, it is not enough to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

Just like people, cats and dogs require regular dental care. They suffer from the same tooth ailments that we do: bad breath, tooth decay, etc. There are a lot of dental treats out there for your pets that treat bad breath and promote healthy teeth. Be careful though, just like with humans, nothing replaces regular brushing! Brushing can be challenging with animals; whose cat or dog likes sitting still while someone puts something in their mouth? My guess is not many – unless that something is a treat!

While establishing a regular tooth brushing routine can be challenging, there are lots of options so you can experiment and find one that works for you and your pet. You can use your finger and toothpaste, a special finger toothbrush (goes over one of your fingers), or even a special pet toothbrush. One thing to remember: don’t use human toothpaste! While it’s great for us, it is not so great for our pets. Luckily, there are lots of options out there just for animals. Some even come in flavors. The bottom line is to start slow and don’t get discouraged if it takes a while for your pet to be comfortable with having something in their mouth. Over time, you should be able to get them comfortable enough so that you can clean the teeth and along the gum line.

Another pet that can require dental procedures, but not really regular care, are rabbits! Rabbits munch on hay as a staple of their diet. Not only is hay good for them, but it also helps keep their continuously growing teeth in check. If they don’t eat hay, their teeth would just grow and grow and cause all sorts of problems in their mouths. In some cases, rabbits are genetically predisposed to continually growing teeth. These rabbits require regular molar trims, where a licensed vet goes in and literally trims the teeth so they are not as sharp (typically they form sharp points) and are in line with the other teeth. For most rabbits, making sure they have unlimited access to hay is enough to keep those molars in check!

So, be on the lookout for signs of periodontal disease or tooth decay in your pet(s):

  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Red / swollen gums
  • Change in appetite

If you notice any of these, it is time to go to the vet. You can prevent these trips by using dental chews, establishing a brushing routine, and regular checkups at the vet. Remember: daily brushing is for your pets too!