National Fresh Breath Day

National Fresh Breath Day

Do you brush your teeth twice a day?  Brushing after meals and flossing before bed is an important routine to follow in order to keep up with your oral hygiene!  August 6th is National Fresh Breath Day, and we would like to remind you of the importance of keeping your pet’s teeth clean, too!  Prevent loose teeth, sore and infected gums, among many other pet oral health problems by taking a good look inside your pet’s mouth.


Common Pet Oral Health Problems

National Fresh Breath DayListed below are some common pet oral health problems that can occur if you do not routinely clean your dog or cat’s mouth.  How much do you really know about your pet’s oral health?  Take the American Veterinary Medical Association’s quiz to find out!

  1. Gingivitis- inflammation of the gums.
  2. Bad breath.
  3. Broken or loose teeth.
  4. Abnormal chewing, drooling or dropping food from the mouth.
  5. Bleeding of the mouth.
  6. Refusal to eat/ mouth pain.
  7. Periodontitis – a general term for a disease of the oral cavity that attacks the gum and bone and delicate tissues around the teeth.
  8. Pyorrhea – inflammation of the gums and tooth sockets, often leading to loosening of the teeth and accompanied by pus.
  9. Caries – an area of decalcification of the tooth enamel leading to cavities in the tooth. Caries is very rare in dogs.
  10. Plaque – the first buildup of material adhering to tooth enamel that can cause caries, calculi buildup, and periodontal disease.
  11. Calculus (Tartar) – calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate combined with organic material, deposited on the surface of the tooth.

Prevention of  Disease

Bacteria in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body and cause infections.  Taking care of your pet’s oral health can overall help keep your pet’s body healthy and help them live longer.  Secondary infections can include diseases of the liver, heart, kidneys, and joints.  Bacteria that originate in the mouth can spread through the bloodstream to these areas.  Home oral care can make an impact on your pet’s comfort and health, and prevent these illnesses.  Talk to your vet about specific care to provide at home, and try these common prevention methods:

  1. Feed a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
  2. Use a pet toothbrush- brushing your pet’s teeth is regarded as the single most effective method to maintain good dental health between professional dental cleanings.
  3. Use “Brushing treats”- these are tasty treats for your pet that also help to clean their teeth.
  4. Get your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned at the vet (ultrasonic teeth cleaning).
  5. Take your pet in for annual assessments.

Train Your Pet To Get Their Teeth Brushed 

  1. Established a routine. Once your pet realizes oral care is a part of their everyday routine, it should become easier.
  2. Start by wrapping your finger in gauze. Use gauze instead of a toothbrush to start- it will make the transition easier!
  3. Make sure you’re in a spot where your pet is comfortable. Try sitting next to your pet, either in front of them or to the side.  Soothe your pet if they seem anxious, and do not start the process until they are relaxed.
  4. Try to use beef or chicken broth with dogs or tuna water with cats. Use one of these flavors on the gauze to get your pet used to the routine before switching to oral cleaning products.
  5. Switch from gauze to a finger brush once your pet is used to the routine. Brush in small circles, brushing on the top and bottom on each side. As you brush along the gum line, some slight bleeding may occur.  Light bleeding is normal, but if it continues, reach out to your vet for advice.
  6. Incorporate veterinarian-approved pet toothpaste. Your vet can recommend the best product for your pet based on their specific oral care needs.
  7. End on a positive note. Reward your dog with his or her favorite treat to encourage the behavior!

Why Is Anesthesia Required For Dental Care At The Vet?

When you go to the dentist, whether or not you like going, you at least know why you are there and what is going to be happening for the next 45 minutes to an hour.  Animals, however, do not.  Your pet does not understand why a stranger will be poking around in his or her mouth, and he or she may respond by moving, trying to escape, or by biting.

Anesthesia makes it possible for the vet to perform dental procedures without worrying about an animal moving or potentially hurting the veterinarian.  Some procedures, such as x-rays, require complete stillness for accuracy, and anesthesia allows that to happen.

While it can be scary to know that your pet must undergo anesthesia, it is a very safe and routine procedure that has relatively low risks and many benefits.  After anesthesia, your pet may be very groggy and sleepy, so let them rest for the rest of the day, and soon they will be back to their normal self!


It is so important to recognize the importance of taking care of your cat or dog’s oral health and making the connection between oral care and the impact it can have on an animal’s overall body health. What will you do to ensure the hygiene of your pet?