PetCare Veterinary Clinic Rustington

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You and Your Pet

Dental Care Guide

We all want to do our best to ensure that our pets stay healthy. Yearly boosters, regular worming, a balanced diet and plenty of exercise are all important, but do you ever think of their teeth?


Regular brushing is the most effective way of keeping your pets mouth healthy. Signs of a healthy mouth are:

  • White teeth
  • Acceptable breath odour
  • Pink gums closely encircling each tooth


Without sufficient dental care your pet may start to suffer from dental disease. The major signs of dental disease are:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Red, swollen and sometimes bleeding gums
  • Reduced appetite
  • Discoloured, loose, or missing teeth

Feeding soft foods that do not provide sufficient crunch can cause the above. This leaves a sticky film on teeth known as 'plaque'. If not removed this plaque hardens into a calculus of tartar that can dig into the gums causing inflammation. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through a large network of blood vessels located near the gums. Recent studies have shown that the heart, liver and kidney disease can be associated with these bacteria, especially in the older pet whose body's defences are not as good.


  • Regular brushing with a pet toothpaste (not human as these can cause stomach upsets)
  • Choose a diet which helps reduce the build up of plaque. Royal Canin’s Dental Diet is specially structured to clean your pets’ teeth as they eat.
  • Regular dental checks, just as for us, are very important. We offer a FREE 6 MONTHLY DENTAL CHECK, with our nursing team. If there are signs of dental disease it may be recommended that your pet have a general anaesthetic to allow a thorough examination, cleaning and polishing of their teeth. This enables efficient cleaning around and under the gum line as well as on the surface of the tooth, which provides a smooth tooth surface and so slows down the formation of plaque.
  • Enzymatic toothpaste. This helps break down plaque with the aid of gentle brushing.
  • A variety of unique treats are available specifically shaped to aid in plaque removal.
  • Special toothbrushes designed to make brushing easier!


  • Choose a toothpaste and brush suitable for the size of your pet, the surgery can offer a poultry flavoured enzymatic toothpaste which is generally accepted by pets.
  • Try your pet with a little toothpaste on your finger to see if they like the taste.
  • Put a little paste onto the bristles of the brush and let your pet lick it off to get used to the feel of the bristles in their mouth.
  • Next moisten the bristles and put on some more paste. Start by brushing just the incisors and canines (front teeth only). Hold the animal’s lips up and gently move the brush in small circles along the gums and teeth.
  • If your pet tolerates this a few times, move to brushing the molar teeth along the sides of the mouth in the same circular action as the fronts.
  • There is no need to brush the insides of the teeth; your pet will move the paste to these areas with their tongue.
  • There is no need for your pet to rinse after brushing as unlike our toothpastes, animal pastes don’t foam up, don’t contain fluoride and are sticky so that they adhere to the teeth. This allows the enzymatic compounds in them to work on the teeth to kill the bacteria that cause gingivitis.
  • You will need to be very patient and approach brushing in a stepwise fashion, it may take several attempts/days to get your pet used to the first step.
  • Try not to make brushing a chore for you or your pet, praise them afterwards and allow plenty of time for training sessions.
  • Remember that brushing is most effective when done daily but this is not always practical, so see our dental products guide for products that you can use on the days when you can not brush or if you can’t brush at all.