Giving your furry friend the best chance at living a longer, healthier life is the goal of every loving pet owner. Doing what’s best for your pet goes beyond ensuring they have access to good food, water & a comfortable environment.

Dental health care is often overlooked in pets and is of critical importance for their health & wellbeing. Did you know up to 85% of dogs or cats experience some form of dental health issue by just 3 years of age?

National pet dental health month is the perfect reminder of why it’s important to look after your pet’s teeth and gums. By recognising the signs of dental disease and taking steps to prevent it, you can help improve the quality of life for your pet for the years to come.

Learn More About Out August 2023 Dental Health Month Promotions Here

Recognising dental disease in pets: what is it and what does it look like

So why are teeth and gums so important to look after and what happens if they are not looked after?

Most dogs, cats and pocket pets are not born with bad teeth. In actual fact most young pets teeth will look clean, white and quite unremarkable. This can often be misleading because this may instil a false sense of security in pet owners; you may then ask yourself “My pets teeth are perfect, why should I bother to clean them”?

What is important to remember is that without regular brushing and possible dental heath care products (if required) over a period of month to years teeth WILL slowly accumulate plaque, followed by tartar with associated gingivitis.

A healthy mouth

A healthy pet’s mouth should show gums of a uniform light pink colour, with clear white teeth showing no discolouration or build up of plaque around the gums.

Screen Shot 2023 07 28 at 14.05.02 pm dental care Pet Dental Care

What is plaque?

Plaque is the first stage of dental disease and in animals is the pale yellow, light tan grimy film layer that coats the surface of teeth. Dogs, cats, pocket pets (and yes even humans!) that do not brush their teeth will accumulate this layer in a matter of hours. The composition of plaque itself is a mixture of microscopic food particles, saliva, oral bacteria, and minerals.

Plaque can in its earliest presentation be removed with regular toothbrushing. However if it is allowed to continue without proper dental care and removal it can form tartar.

This stage of dental disease is the most reversible and easiest to treat.

Screen Shot 2023 07 31 at 11.20.54 am dental care Pet Dental Care
Sourced from: The Healthy Dog Co

What is tartar?

Tartar is the next step in dental disease after plaque. It is plaque that has mineralised (calcified). Tartar can over time form continual layers on teeth and reach below the gum line to sit in the tooth socket. Tartar looks like a thickened brown film on the teeth with a craggy / raised ‘mountainous’ appearance. Because tartar is mineralised (and therefore very hard) it is not as amenable to tooth brushing for removal.

Screen Shot 2023 07 28 at 14.06.53 pm dental care Pet Dental Care

What is Gingivitis?

Once plaque and tartar are established on teeth and at the tooth / gum margin gingivitis will worsen. Gums are very sensitive tissues and chronic exposure to oral bacteria in plaque and tartar will cause a lot or redness, tenderness, inflammation, prone to bleeding with associated pain. It should also be remembered that red swollen, infected gums are more permeable to oral bacteria; which means that there is a higher chance of oral bacteria being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Screen Shot 2023 07 31 at 11.21.11 am dental care Pet Dental Care
Sourced from VCA Animal Hospitals








Tissues that can form bacterial inflammatory deposits include kidney and cardiac tissue. This may result in continual disease in these organs (example; kidney dysfunction or infections) or recurrent periods where your pet is unwell and “just not right”. The longer the dental disease continues untreated the more sickness episodes can be expected in our furry friends.

What happens with continual untreated dental disease?

End stage Periodontal Disease: Infected and loose teeth

Over time continual exposure of teeth and gums to bacteria will slowly erode the supporting ligament that holds teeth in place (the periodontal ligament); in time teeth will loosen and become mobile (wobbly) in their bony sockets. This increased gap in the space in-between the tooth and its socket allows further bacteria to sit in this space and accumulate.

In time the end stage of dental disease or “tooth decay” will become evident as teeth with pus around the gum / tooth margin with wobbly teeth that move whenever the pet eats.

Eventually the bony sockets of the upper and lower jaw that the teeth sit in become infected (osteomyelitis) with the bone changing into a more softer and fragile consistency.

Once the gums, teeth and mouth reach this later stage of dental disease it is often irreversible: meaning that dental cleaning and prophy treatments are recommended and instigated but these will not restore the teeth back to complete health and ongoing dental disease is expected in the future requiring ongoing care.

As expected this final stage of dental disease can be quite painful and reduce eating due to pain. Additionally brushing the teeth becomes more difficult due to the increased sensitively of the teeth to pain.

While plaque and tartar can often be seen by looking in your pet’s mouth, sometimes it can be hard to notice when you’re unsure what to look out for. As a general rule, don’t assume that your pet’s teeth are healthy without getting a pet dental health check and maintaining pet dental care.

Here are some common signs of dental disease:

  • Bad breath 
  • Irregular/abnormal eating or drinking: eg. picking up food with their nouth then dropping it
  • Broken/loose teeth 
  • Excessive drooling or pawing at mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Teeth that are no longer white on the surface but are yellow or tan with a rough texture rather than a soothe surface 


Benefits of Maintaining Pets Dental Health

By getting to it early, you minimise the likelihood of tartar forming and moving below the gum line and causing your pet serious pain and discomfort as a result of inflammation and infection.

Ensuring your pet receives proper dental care both at home and at the vet is vital. By practising proper dental care, pets are more likely to experience improved overall health that will help them in the years to come.

Pet dental health awareness month is the perfect time to book your best friend into your local veterinary clinic for a check-up.
At Clyde Veterinary Hospital, we provide dental health services for dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents and ferrets. We pride ourselves on treating animals in our state-of-the-art clinic and using gold standard service and dental equipment.

With dedicated dog and cat treatment areas, you can trust that your beloved pet will receive the highest quality, tailored care. We use the best pet dental care products and perform rigorous pre-anaesthetic testing to help ensure your pet receives the best treatment possible.

If your pet is showing signs of dental problems or you’d like to make sure your pet’s health is the best it can be, give us a call on 03 9052 3200 or make a booking online today.

What You Can Do?

Clean Their Teeth Regularly

Few pet owners take the time to give their animal’s teeth a regular or dedicated clean, but this is without question the gold standard in preventative care.

We strongly encourage the use of a dedicated species-specific toothbrush or “finger brush” which is a specially designed plastic overlay that you place over your finger and use to brush their teeth directly, and which gives much better tactile feedback and a better experience for your pet.

dog breath treatment veterinary casey

Using a dedicated dental paste is really the gold standard. Dedicated pet-specific formulations are available which have a palatable taste for pets, and which provide additional benefits such as mouth freshening and prevent plaque build-up.

We do recommend products such as Oxyfresh Pet Dental Gel, which is completely odourless and tasteless and made from natural ingredients.

Screen Shot 2023 07 31 at 11.24.53 am dental care Pet Dental Care

We DO NOT recommend using human toothpaste to clean your dog or cat’s teeth, as these can contain ingredients that can be harmful to dogs or cats if used over an extended period and in some formulations contain ingredients which can be toxic to pets.

It’s important that you remain committed to a daily process of brushing in order to maintain the benefits of a regular dental regime, and it’s important to quickly get your pet used to the somewhat unnatural process of having their teeth brushed.

Here are some tips for gradual introduction to tooth brushing for your pet:

  1. Start by gently lifting up your dog or cat’s top and bottom lip one side at a time and lightly rubbing their teeth with your finger once a day. Once they become used to this, you should begin use of the finger or tooth brush.
  2. Once your pet is used to you handling their mouth and rubbing their gums, use the finger brush (WITHOUT) toothpaste to rub the gums. Brush with gentle circular motions.
  3. Finally introduce a small blob of toothpaste to your pet onto their gums before applying this onto the fingerbrush. This will get them used to the taste of the toothpaste.  Then apply the toothpaste to the finger brush and start gently brushing each row of teeth, top and bottom left and right using circular motions. Concentrate on cleaning the outside (cheek-facing) surfaces, as most pets will not allow you to brush the inside (tongue facing) surface of the teeth. Be sure to clean the back upper molars and canines, as these teeth tend to quickly build up tartar.

Be sure to reward them after their toothbrushing with play, petting or a favourite activity, to positively reinforce the brushing process

We recommend starting your pet out as young as possible while they are still puppies or kittens, as they will be far more receptive to brushing if you begin at an early age.

Use Specially Formulated Dental Dry Food

A number of dog and cat food manufacturers now make several varieties of dry food formula which has been specially designed to abrasively prevent the build-up of plaque or tartar on your pet’s teeth and gums.

At Clyde Veterinary Hospital, we strongly recommend Hills Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care for Dogs and Cats –

This diet features a specially formulated, species-specific kibble shape and size, with “fibre matrix technology” for maximum plaque reduction. Essentially the kibble biscuits clean the teeth just by the pet chomping them up and eating them!

Hills t/d comes in a formulation for cats as well as various sizes for dogs

Screen Shot 2023 07 31 at 11.25.31 am dental care Pet Dental Care

Use Dedicated Dental Chews

Similarly, several manufacturers make dedicated dental chew treats for dogs, which are a great-tasting way to supplement a daily brushing regime, and provide a little reward for putting up with the hassle of brushing.

Add a Specialised Dental Formula to Their Drinking Water

Oxyfresh have also come up with this extremely clever way of destroying bacteria and removing plaque – a dental additive solution you can mix in with their regular water – it’s completely colourless and odourless so they’ll never even know the good they are doing themselves every time they go to the water bowl – and it’s effective for both dogs and cats, or indeed any animal species.

We don’t recommend relying primarily on this as a preventative measure, but it can certainly help improve the effectiveness of a more hands-on dental care regime.

oxyfresh veterinary dental water additive

Give Dogs a Raw Bone

Although this is one preventative measure your dog will truly relish, we recommend exercising caution with this. Always supervise your pet when they are chewing a bone.

Importantly NEVER give your dog a cooked bone, as they are liable to splinter and can seriously injure your pet.

Always give your dog a human-grade meat bone (some preservatives used in inferior meats contain substances that can harm your dog), with enough meat still on to retain a degree of softness, and make sure the bone is large enough that they won’t attempt to swallow it.

Chewing on the bone’s rubbery surface can help remove plaque and tartar build-up and strengthen your dog’s gums, providing improved resistance to dental decay.

We recommend a maximum of 1-2 bones per week, and remember to try to leave a minimum 3 day gap between bone treats.

See Your Vet Regularly

This one may seem obvious, but it’s important that your pet has regular dental check-ups from an early age – you don’t want them having to live with a lifetime of tooth or other dental issues, which can lead to a loss of appetite, and restrict their enjoyment of life.

Only a professional dental check can properly diagnose and treat the often deeply hidden teeth or gum issues that can lurk deep within your dog or cat’s mouth.

Animals will also benefit from dental scaling, and your vet can advise if this would be appropriate and beneficial for your pet. Depending on the level of build-up, some dogs may need a yearly scale and polish.

Screen Shot 2023 07 31 at 11.37.56 am dental care Pet Dental Care
State of the Art IM3 Ultrasonic Scaler, as used by Clyde Veterinary Hospital








Ultrasonic scalers are handheld devices which use ultrasonic vibrations to remove hard, calcified deposits from your pet’s teeth. They also create shockwaves that disrupt bacterial growth, while also washing and flushing pockets between teeth and any exposed root surfaces with water.

The procedure is usually followed by a professional tooth polish, which smooths the surface of the tooth to minimise bacteria and plaque build-up.

We do strongly caution against any lay dental practitioners who claim to perform dental scaling free of anaesthesia. For starters, the procedure can be painful and distressing for your pet, but just as importantly – it’s been shown to be ineffective as a preventative measure – in most cases, your pet is simply not going to allow anyone to insert anything deep enough into their mouths to provide for a complete and effective clean.


August 2023: Dental Month

And a final reminder, we have a huge range of special offers for August 2023 Dental Month

Colorful Veterinary Clinic Facebook Cover 3 dental care Pet Dental Care


A Team You Can Trust at Clyde Vet

We have a team of trusted veterinarians who are leaders in pet care. 

We value preventative care to keep your pet healthy and endeavour to identify any concerns before they become a bigger issue. 

If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment please give us a call at (03) 9069 4088 or email us at


Follow Clyde Veterinary Hospital on Social Media …

for much CUTENESS, behind the scenes photos, special offers and MORE …

Website copyright © Clyde Veterinary Hospital, 2018. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy.

Website design and construction by Rattling Tram Local and Retail Marketing, Melbourne, Australia.

clyde vets cranbourne