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A common issue that faces cats and dogs, looking after their teeth and gums form an early age is important to their overall wellbeing. Safeguarding against issues or maintaining certain conditions is crucial, particularly as tooth and gum disease can be painful, and if untreated can lead to other problems, like heart issues and kidney disease.

How do I know if my pet is suffering from tooth decay or gum disease?

It might not be obvious if your pet is suffering with toothache, so keeping a close eye on them (and nose, on occasion) will help you spot some tell-tale symptoms.

  • Smelly breath
  • Frequent drooling
  • Dropping food
  • New eating habits, like using one side of their mouth to chew
  • Gum concerns, like blood or swelling
  • Red lines along their gums
  • Brown or yellow plaque
  • Broken teeth
  • New face swelling, particularly on cheeks or under eyes

How can I care for their teeth and gums?

  • Make brushing part of their routine, ideally daily but at least twice a week otherwise
  • Regular dental examinations with the vet, preferably twice a year
  • Incorporate dental chews, treating both them and their mouth!
  • Specialist dental diets can support

How should I clean their teeth?

It may seem like a wild idea, but brushing their gnashers can minimize the chances of gum issues developing and reduce the risk of tooth problems. It’s unlikely your pet will enjoy it at first, and will probably be a frustrating process to begin with, but if you start from an early age, the more likely they will come around to the act, and even if they don’t enjoy it, they’ll tolerate it.

Some tips and a how-to:

  • Chose a suitable toothbrush for your pet, this will make it a smoother process with specially designed bristles and handle. Remember, don’t ever use human toothpaste and never share brushes amongst pets


  • Get your pet familiar with the taste of toothpaste by encouraging them to lick off a small bit off your finger. You can also get them used to the smell by putting a small amount on their nose. Repeat over a few days if necessary.


  • When they’re more comfortable with the feeling, introduce the toothbrush and hold it at a 45-degree angle near the gum line, and use soft, circular motions, as you would with your own teeth. Start very gradually and build up for a couple of seconds over a few weeks.


  • Stay patient and try not to get frustrated if your pet doesn’t respond kindly. It’s a possibility they’ll never take to having their teeth brushed, and if this is the case it may be worth avoiding the stress for both you and your furry pal. An alternative might be finger pads or wipes, slowly transitioning into a brush when they’re more comfortable.