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Dental disease in pets

Pet Dental Care

Dental disease in pets is one of Australia’s biggest animal welfare issues, yet is easily forgotten about. A painful mouth is THE most common problem we see on a daily basis at Turramurra Vets, but we often hear “Missy can’t have painful teeth, she is still eating”. Yet animals, sensibly, will continue to eat even if they are suffering from dental disease. After all, they can’t tell us when their teeth are sore and they definitely don't want to go hungry!

Key signs of dental disease to watch out for include:

  • Bad breath
  • Dirty teeth and red gums when looking in their mouths
  • Excessive drooling
  • Eating on one side of the mouth only
  • “Champing” of the jaw when eating
  • Discomfort and aggression when examining their mouths


If you have noticed your pet has smelly breath or their teeth aren't the usual pearly white, pick up the phone today and make an appointment for a FREE assessment. Make sure your pet is checked and attended to BEFORE pain develops.

We are pleased to offer free vet nurse dental checks by appointment Monday to Saturday, during our regular hours for your convenience. These complimentary checks are performed by our wonderful nursing team. Our nurses love meeting your pets and have all received extra training in the management of dental disease. They are all well equipped to provide accurate advice on treatment and prevention, as well as answer any questions you have. One of our veterinarians will also be close by to lend an extra hand if needed.

Cat Dental Care

How does your pet actually develop dental disease?

Pets' teeth are just like our own, and daily dental care is required to minimise the development of tartar or calculus on their teeth. Imagine what would happen if you never brushed your teeth - yuck!

A build-up of calculus on your pet's teeth leads to gingivitis (inflammation of the gum), which is reversible if the calculus is removed early. However, gingivitis can progress to irreversible periodontal disease which leads to gum recession, tooth infection and the inevitable loss of teeth. This process is obviously very painful for your pet.

How can I prevent dental disease in my pet?

The following dental care tips cannot treat existing periodontal disease and do not replace a thorough dental scale and polish. Home dental care is of maximal benefit in a healthy mouth (in a young pet or after a recent scale and polish). Note that like in humans, dental care will help to slow down the progression of calculus and increase the interval between dental visits, but may not prevent dental disease altogether.

Dental Care Tips

  1. Tooth-brushing: Daily brushing of pets' teeth is 'gold standard' for dental care. Start pets at a young age to increase acceptance. A finger toothbrush or soft baby's toothbrush provides a mechanical action to remove tartar. Palatable pet toothpastes are available. Human toothpastes are unsuitable for use in pets. We recommend Petosan toothbrushes and toothpastes.
  2. Dental diet: This is a complete and balanced diet that is formulated with dental care in mind. We recommend Royal Canin Dental which is available for dogs and cats. For smaller dogs under 10kg, the Dental Special is a smaller kibble size. The dental kibble has a mild abrasive effect on dental tartar when chewed. The addition of sodium polyphosphate binds calcium in the saliva, making it unavailable for tartar formation. Alternative diets are available; just ask our staff.
  3. Dental chew treats: A great alternative to feeding raw bones or raw chicken necks/wings. Dogs may swallow chicken necks/wings whole, which may cause an obstruction. Never feed cooked bones as they may splinter and cause similar issues. Some larger, harder raw bones may cause slab fractures on the teeth. An appropriately sized raw meaty bone is excellent for dental care and also provides environmental enrichment. Dental treats are designed to be chewed and they work in a similar way to the dental diet. There are a wide variety of dental treats; we recommend Greenies for dogs and cats.
  4. Oral hygiene: We recommend Prozym, an antiseptic product which is added to drinking water to reduce bacterial load and plaque-forming organisms within the mouth. This, in conjunction with a regular home dental care program, helps to decrease bad breath.

  5. Some pets will tolerate tooth brushing and special diets and treats may help. Raw meaty bones may help (avoid cooked, chop or T bones) and some pets may require dental treatment.