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Dental & Oral Homecare

Plaque is the enemy! This sticky substance, full of bacteria, coats teeth and is the main cause of dental disease. However, removal by homecare can prevent or minimise many disease processes and extend the benefit of treatments.

An effective oral hygiene program helps your pets and you by improving welfare and reducing surgery required.


The gold standard- brushing physically sweeps plaque away and is the most effective homecare method. It should be done every day. Equipment required:

Tooth brush – soft-medium bristle, suitable size (adult human for medium-large dogs). Finger brushes should be avoided as they are not effective.

Pet tooth paste (human tooth paste can be toxic for pets). Need not be expensive; a flavour your pet will enjoy is the important factor so they allow you to brush!

Good brushing and co-operation with your pet requires patience and may take 4-6weeks to achieve. NEVER risk being injured - use care and the advice below:

1. Allow your pet to taste the toothpaste- the flavour acts as a treat.

2. Gently close your pet’s mouth, steadying their head with your palm beneath the chin.

3. Gently lift their lips to access teeth at the side- initially for 1-2 seconds. Increase time daily to see and touch teeth. Lips move backwards easily to access back teeth.

4. Go at your pet’s pace and give praise for calm behaviour.

5. Stop if pets become distressed or over excited, ignore them then try again when calm.

6. Introduce paste on a soft-medium bristled brush (human is fine).

7. Use a gentle forward-back ‘scrubbing’ action on each tooth.

8. Start at the sides of the mouth then move to the front. Gradually increase time/ number of teeth brushed – with practice you can clean the outside surfaces of all teeth.

9. Eventually you may be able to open the mouth and brush inside surfaces.

10. Try to ensure the interactions are calm & enjoyable for you and your pet.

Make tooth-brushing part of the daily routine, eg before meal/ before walk.

 The aim is healthy teeth and gums - gums should be smooth and ‘baby pink’.

 If you note anything abnormal in your pet’s mouth contact the surgery.

Enquiries & appointments via Sue Vranch Tel: 07825 416534 Email:

Other Aspects

Brushing is THE most effective method. Other homecare components may assist the hygiene program especially where brushing is compromised. Examples include:

 Aggressive animals where brushing may be dangerous

 Carer unable to perform brushing- either permanently or in kennels etc

Oral Rinses

Designed for animals, these have an antibacterial action and are for short term use. They may be combined with brushing but not paste. Tooth staining may occur (cosmetic only).


Enable pets to utilise teeth naturally and exercise the jaws. Saliva flushes the mouth and rough surfaces rub against teeth removing some plaque. This is similar to our use of chewing gum. Most effective use is for 10-15min after each meal.

Cats: lightly boiled chicken skin, gristly meat, chew treats

Dogs: large rawhide chews (strips/ rolled into bone or cigar shapes), large biscuit-bones/ chew treats, lightly boiled beef skirt, rubber chew-toys.

Large chews may produce better cleaning action and reduce likelihood of choking. Observe your pet for safety and to identify any problems.


Avoid sticky foods and sweet treats. Larger, fibrous, pellet, dry-complete diets specifically designed to reduce plaque are available. Their size increases chewing action and the consistency is designed to aid some plaque removal.

Your pet may have specific dietary needs so always check with your vet before changing food regimes. Dietary changes should be done gradually.


A variety of tablets, gels, liquids and powders are available. Most are expensive and are insufficiently proven to reduce disease. They are thus not recommended.

Unsafe Treats & Toys – AVOID!

Bones - injury may occur due to tooth fracture and damage from bone fragments.

Hard toys – stones, golf balls, cricket balls and hard chew toys all fracture teeth.

Sticks – splinters damage the mouth, larger parts damage the throat – can be fatal.

Foods – sweet treats cause tooth decay. Sweeteners, grapes, onion, chocolate are toxic.

Oral hygiene checks advised every 3-6 months for your pet with your vet or vet nurse.

Only tooth brushing with a bristle brush will effectively remove plaque from the most vital area: below the gum margin.

Contact your surgery if in doubt about any aspect of homecare or your animal’s health.

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