Preventative Dental Care for Dogs & Cats

Preventative dental care in dogs and cats is the same as in people!

Approximately 70% of domestic animals have periodontal disease which left untreated causes bad breath, oral infection and inflammation, and oral pain. Bacteria from periodontal disease can extend into the regional tissues of the head causing nasal, sinus, and throat disease, or worse, into systemic tissues causing heart, kidney, and liver disease.

The good news is that periodontal disease in the majority of pets is preventable by daily removal of plaque from the teeth and gums! Just like people, the Gold Standard for plaque removal is BRUSHING! In addition to brushing, numerous products (Diets, Chews, Treats, Water Additives, etc) are available which aid in plaque and tartar control. (Note: Existing plaque and tartar must be removed by professional cleaning before it can be controlled!)

ADCS recommends Veterinary Oral Health Council Accepted Products!

Products with the VOHC Accepted Seal® have been rigorously tested and clinically proven to meet the manufacturers claim of Plaque and/or Tartar Control. For more information about Periodontal Disease prevention and for a current list of VOHC Accepted Products visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council website.

Preventative Dental Care for Herbivores (Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Camelids, Ruminants, Equids)

The best preventative dental care for herbivores is to allow them to eat naturally!

While the foliage of plants appears relatively soft, plant tissue contains silicates (sand-like particles) which are very abrasive and wear away the tooth’s surface as an herbivore chews. However, the teeth of herbivores have adapted to processing abrasive forage by continuously erupting! Some species like rabbits and some rodents have elodont dentition which will continue to grow the entire life of the animal. Other herbivores, such as horses, ruminants, and camelids, have hypsodont teeth which erupt throughout life, but have finite dental lifespan. Different animals have evolved to eat different plants, and each species’ teeth are designed to masticate those specific forages…Horse graze grass! Deer browse forbs!

For increased productivity, more efficient management, and convenience, most domestic animals are fed diets consisting of processed foods and supplements. Common feeding practices alter the eruption/wear rate of the herbivore’s teeth and directly cause dental malocclusions (e.g. overlong teeth) which progressively lead to periodontal disease and other oral problems. For example, horses have evolved to eat low quality grasses, and wild horses must graze 14-18 daily to meet their nutritional needs. Conversely, most working and athletic horses have access to pasture less than 12 hours daily and must be fed a diet of high quality hay and grain-based concentrates to meet their increased nutritional demands. A horse’s dental eruption/wear rate is programed for chewing grass continuously throughout the day; however, domestication requires horses to be meal fed. Similarly, pet rabbits and rodents are often fed pelleted diets with minimal forage…. Domestic diets predispose herbivores to dental disease!

The best preventative dental care for herbivores is to allow them to eat naturally! Herbivores should be allowed to graze/browse natural forages as much as possible. Horses need as much pasture time as possible! Pet rabbits need supervised chew time in the yard! Regular professional oral examinations are recommended to diagnosis and treat malocclusion as soon as possible.