Dental Care for Dogs & Cats

Disclaimer: Information and products discussed on this page are of a general nature and do not account for your pets’ specific needs. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian. Simply Seaweed is not liable for any undesired outcomes arising from undertaking any of the following suggestions.


Introduction

Our teeth need to be regularly cleaned and maintained, and so do our pets’! Maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent and treat Dental Disease & Bad Breath.

Pet dental care is not a one-size-fits-all approach, nor can any one thing get the job done. Find out what works best for both you and your pet.

Veterinary Checkups & Cleaning

Just like humans, dogs and cats also need to visit the dentist! A dental check-up should be performed once a year by a veterinarian. A dental scale and polish (known as a “Dental”) may be recommended – most dogs and cats require a few of these during their lifetime. During a Dental your pet will be put under a general anaesthetic. The procedure is routine, quick and safe. Dental Month in Australia is August so during this time many vets have promotions on Dentals.

Anaesthesia-free (also known as non-sedation) Dentals are now becoming popular, however, this method is not recommended by the Australian Veterinary Association (see https://www.ava.com.au/policy-advocacy/policies/companion-animals-health/anaesthesia-free-dentistry-in-dogs-and-cats/). 

Diet

Kibble

The majority of pet owner feed their cats and dogs kibble (also known as cat/dog biscuits or dry food). Whilst dogs and cats often prefer the texture of wet (canned) food, kibble is better for their teeth due to its texture. The dry rough surface of kibble provides good mechanical abrasion that helps to scrub away plaque, and is also less likely than wet food to get stuck in gaps between teeth. If your pet scoffs their kibble they may not be getting the full benefit, so try a slow feeder bowl (also known as a gulper bowl).

There are a number of good quality kibble products available that have been specifically developed for dental care:

For Dogs

For Cats

* available through veterinarians only

Raw

Fresh food diets (referred to as “Raw”) are becoming increasingly popular for both dogs and cats. Raw feeding helps maintain good dental hygiene through bone content and low carbohydrates.

Bones & Chews

Bones and chews both clean teeth and provide mental enrichment. Their hardness scrapes plaque from teeth, whilst the saliva generated from the prolonged chewing action helps to wash away food particles and neutralise acids.

Raw Bones

It’s not just dogs that eat bones, cats can have them too! Bones can either be given recreationally, or as part of your pet’s regular diet. Choose a bone that is suitable for the size of your pet. Supervise pets that are new to bones or that scoff their food. Never feed your pet cooked bones, and remember to practise good hygiene when handling raw meat. Pet nutritionists do not recommend feeding weight bearing bones from large animals (such as beef marrow bones) as their density can result in cracked teeth.

Natural Chews

  • Beef hide rolls
  • Bully sticks (also known as beef pizzle, bull penis, doodle noodles or d**k sticks)
  • Cow hooves
  • Goat horns
  • Shark skin rolls
Beef Hide Roll

Beef Hide Roll, image from https://skinnydogpettreats.com/collections/beef/products/awrys-beef-hide-roll?variant=17096551366727

Functional Treats for Dogs

Functional Treats for Cats

Tooth Brushing

Whilst brushing your pet’s teeth is one of the most effective ways of maintaining their dental hygiene, it is certainly not one of the easiest!

It is best to start training your pet to accept their teeth being brushed when they are a puppy/kitten.

Toothbrushes

There are two different types of toothbrushes available for pets – the finger brush and the “normal” style toothbrush. If you are worried about your pet accidentally (or purposely) biting your fingers, then a normal style toothbrush is a better choice as it keeps you at a greater distance from their teeth. Choosing a toothbrush with a multi-angled head will provide greater coverage across the surface areas of the teeth. 

Effective alternatives to toothbrushes include a piece of pantyhose, gauze or flannel.

You can also use your thumbnail to loosen plaque.

Dentipet Finger Brush

Dentipet Finger Brush, image from https://www.ceva.com.au/Products/Products-list/Dentipet-Finger-Brush

Petosan Double-Headed Toothbrush

Petosan Double-Headed Toothbrush, image from https://petosan.com/products/toothbrushes/toothbrush-for-dogs/

Toothpaste

You don’t have to use toothpaste with a toothbrush, but it will increase the efficacy. Do not use toothpastes made for humans – they may contain ingredients such as Xylitol that are toxic to pets. They can also contain too much fluoride which can be harmful to your pet as unlike us they do not spit the toothpaste out. There are lots of recipes available on the internet if you are keen to make your own toothpaste. 

Toys

Any toy that encourages mouth-play will be beneficial to your pet’s dental health, due to the mechanical action applied to teeth and gums. This includes plushies (also known as soft toys), rope toys, chew toys and dental toys. Playing tug is a great way to clean your dog’s teeth whilst having fun. Dogs will often have a bite grip that is different for playing, tugging and eating, so toys can help to clean different areas of the mouth.

There are several toys specifically designed for dental benefits. If your pet requires a bit of encouragement to chew on a dental toy, try smearing a little Vegemite or peanut butter on it.

For Dogs

PetSafe Busy Buddy Bristle Bone

PetSafe Busy Buddy Bristle Bone, image from https://store.petsafe.net/busy-buddy-bristle-bone

For Cats

Dental Products

Food Additives

  • Ascophyllum nodosum – a species of seaweed proven to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-plaque properties. Our favourite brand is Simply Seaweed of course!
  • Some pet owner’s find adding parsley, mint and/or charcoal to their pet’s food can help to combat bad breath.

Water Additives

Sprays, Wipes & Gels