Jan 12 2018

Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats | Winslow Animal Hospital


The most common disease in dogs and cats is dental disease. It affects approximately 68% of cats and 76% of dogs. Dental disease impacts the teeth and gums, and is given a score of grade 1 to grade 4, based on severity. (A grade of 0 indicates no periodontal disease). 



Dental Disease Symptoms

Is your pet’s health at risk from dental disease? Look for these symptoms:

  • Bad Breath

  • Pawing at the Mouth

  • Bleeding from the Mouth or Gums

  • Tartar on the Teeth, Red Gums

  • Trouble Eating and Facial Swelling


Home Dental Care

The first line of defense against dental disease is good old-fashioned tooth brushing at home! You can protect your pet by brushing your pet’s teeth at least 2-3x per week. This video will teach you how to do it.


  1. Use pet-specific toothpaste, never human products.
  2. Allow your pet to smell and taste the toothpaste in a calm environment.
  3. Start when your pet is young!
  4. Brush the outside of your pet’s teeth with your finger. Allow your pet to get used to the sensation.
  5. You can use gauze to brush your pet’s teeth. Wrap it around your finger, apply toothpaste and brush, starting with the teeth in the back of the mouth. You can also use a pet toothbrush.
  6. NEVER force the mouth open!
  7. When you are finished, give plenty of praise or a treat to make tooth brushing a positive experience for your pet.
  8. Try to brush at least 2-3 times a week.

Let’s not forget that cats also suffer from dental disease and can also benefit from dental cleanings! It is thought that dental care for cats is one of the most overlooked areas in a small animal practice. Cats typically won’t let their owners brush their teeth at home. There are additives that can be place into their water, but brushing is still the number one way to keep their teeth clean. If your kitty is one of the many cats that won’t allow you to brush at home, then it is more important than ever to make sure they have a yearly checkup to not only check their overall health but their oral health in particular.


Your Pet’s Professional Dental Treatment at Winslow Animal Hospital

Once tartar has begun to build up on the teeth, brushing at home will not be able to reverse the dental disease.  Your pet needs a professional dental treatment! Check out this video to learn about the steps that will be taken to provide high quality dental care to your dog or cat.




Cavities in Cats

Felines suffer from the same dental problems that dogs do and then some. Not only are there problems with gingivitis and tartar buildup, but in cats we commonly see tooth resorption. A resorptive lesion is also known as a cavity. They can cause pain and discomfort for our cats. However, most cats will not show their discomfort until it becomes unbearable. Symptoms of cavities are as follows:

  • excessive salivation

  • difficulty eating

  • bleeding from the mouth


Since cats don’t show their discomfort right away, it is important that a veterinarian does a thorough oral exam. Especially for cats over the age of three, since the percentage of cats over the age of three with the condition is more than 50%. Taking care of the oral health of your cat can prolong their life! This is why it is so important to get your furry friend to the vet on a yearly basis and to pay attention to their dental health!

Brody Grade 1Brody After Treatment

Don’t Wait – Treat Dental Disease at Grade 1

When told that their pet has Grade 1 dental disease, many Pet-Parents choose not to treat the disease, in stead opting to wait until it has progressed to a Grade 2 or even a Grade 3. While every person’s and pet’s situation is different, there are several reasons why it is better to treat sooner, rather than later.

  • It is less costly. Many Pet-Parents choose to wait on dental treatment for their dog or cat because they need to save money. While this is an understandable concern, many times waiting will cost more in the long run. The largest cost involved in treatment is anesthesia, and the lower the grade, the less time your pet will need to spend under anesthesia. 

  • It prevents pain. A Grade 1 is generally not painful, but a Grade 2 is likely to be painful, and Grades 3 and 4 almost certainly are. This pain may also influence eating behaviors and overall health and well-being of the pet.

  • It saves teeth. By waiting until a later stage of the disease process, we increase the risk that there will be irreversible damage to a tooth and that the tooth or teeth will need to be extracted.

  • It is safer. We do everything we can to ensure your pet’s safety during any medical procedure. Dentistry is no exception! However, there is always some risk involved with anesthesia. The less time your pet spends under anesthesia, the better! This is another reason we recommend treating dental disease as soon as it is detected, rather than waiting until it is a higher grade.

Brody waiting for a treat


LifeLearn Admin | Dental, Pet Health, What's New at Winslow Animal Hospital!

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