How to Save on Dog and Cat Teeth Cleaning

person stretching dogs face cheeks to reveal gums and teeth

The best thing you can do to save money on your dog and cats teeth cleaning is to prevent tartar from forming. Use these tips to help keep your dog and cat’s teeth clean:

  • The best thing you can do to save money on cleaning your pet’s teeth is to start getting into the routine of brushing your cat or dog’s teeth every day. Yes, every day! Start when they are puppies and kittens by massaging their gums and putting your fingers in their mouth. When they have their adult teeth you can start introducing the toothbrush. Don’t worry about using toothpaste as most pets want to eat it and this prevents proper brushing.   Plaque (the soft yellow whitish stuff you can scrape off your teeth with your fingernail) becomes tartar (the hard yellow brownish stuff your dentist has to scrape off your teeth with dental instruments) within 24 hours. If you are not brushing the teeth daily you are not helping when you are brushing.
  • Use Hill’s t/d food. This food is designed to clean cats’ and dogs’ teeth while they chew. Our pets have to eat so they might as well clean their teeth while they are eating. TheVeterinary Oral Health Council(VOHC) is an independent body that examines the efficacy of products that claim to improve oral health. t/d is VOHC approved.
  • Use Healthy Mouth. This is a water additive that reduces plaque formation. This helps clean dogs’ and cats’ teeth while they drink. There are many water additives that claim to improve the health of our pet’s mouths. To date Healthy Mouth is the only one that has the VOHC seal of approval.
  • Be careful with chew toys. Do not use hard items as chew toys. Do not use bones, antlers, horns or hard plastics. While they can help clean dogs’ teeth, I routinely remove broken teeth because of their use. These items can also be broken into small pieces that can be swallowed and require surgery to remove or cause death of the pet. Look for the VOHC seal on any treat that claims to clean dogs’ teeth and use these. Be aware that anything hard can break your pet’s teeth and use at your own risk.
  • Do not have your dog’s teeth cleaned while awake. These procedures do not help the teeth. They do cause stress, pain and possibly injury to the pet. These “hygienic procedures” make teeth look clean, but they do not get under the gum line to remove tartar from where it is causing damage. You can read more on the issue here: American Veterinary Dental Collegeposition statement.
  • Have the teeth cleaned by your veterinarian when they tell you to do it. Eventually you will need to have your pet’s teeth cleaned. We need routine dental cleaning of our teeth despite regular brushing and flossing. The sooner you have your cat or dog’s teeth cleaned the better for the pet and the teeth. The longer you wait the more damage that occurs to the teeth and the more work that is needed to repair the damage. This is especially true for small dogs. The smaller teeth do not have much to give up before dental disease damages the tooth to the point it needs to be removed. When animals are awake it is impossible to tell how much cleaning a dog or cat’s teeth will be because most of the damage occurs under the gum line. X-rays of the whole mouth need to be done to give an accurate estimate of cost for the teeth cleaning and needed dental surgery and must be done while the pet is under anesthetic. These findings should be discussed with you before any work is done. You should discuss payment options with your veterinarian before the teeth cleaning. Talk to your insurance company before the procedure to see if they will cover any portion of the teeth cleaning.

Dental disease is one of the most common problems we see in our pets today. If you have more questions about your pet’s teeth, pleasecall usto discuss them. I hope these tips will help you keep your dog and cat’s teeth clean.

Yours in health,

Dr. Kent Morley