Dental Health Tips for Pets

Caring Smiles Celebrates National Dog Day

In honor of National Dog Day, Caring Smiles is changing things up a little bit, and instead of giving you tips for your own dental health, we’d like to share some tips on how to best take care of your four-legged friends’ smiles! We’ve partnered with Dr. Naomi Hoyer, a veterinary dentist at Colorado State University’s Veterinary School.

She frequently receives questions about how to take care of dogs’ and cats’ teeth at home. Click here to see the video she put together to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth!

Start with a trip to the vet.

To make sure you’re taking the very best care of your pet’s dental health, you should really visit a veterinarian first. Unlike with people, signs of dental disease are much more difficult to casually observe in pets. Dogs have 42 teeth while cats have 30, and you’re only able to see the surfaces of less than half of them. Animals also don’t tend to just stick out their tongue willingly and say, “aah!”

That’s why it’s important to have a trained professional take the time and really get a thorough examination of your pet’s teeth. From there, your vet can determine whether home care will be sufficient or if your pet will need anesthetized cleaning. 

What does home care entail?

If your veterinarian deems that home care is the best course of action for your pet, then the best thing to do is simply brush their teeth! Luckily, you don’t need any special equipment or training. It’s similar to brushing your own teeth; however, you’ll likely have to spend more time getting your pet to cooperate so you can actually brush their teeth thoroughly.

When brushing your dog or cat’s teeth, you really only need to focus on brushing the outer surfaces (that face the inside of their cheek). Their tongues do a great job of removing any hardened plaque on the interior side of their teeth. 

If they won’t let you brush, give them a treat.


If your pet won’t let you brush their teeth thoroughly, that’s okay. You can give treats or chews to help them get rid of plaque on their teeth. However, you do want to be careful with very hard treats or big bones. While they are very good at removing plaque, that means they’re also hard enough to break your pet’s teeth. This can be especially problematic with younger dogs and cats since their teeth are softer.

When in doubt, see a professional. 

Even if home care seems to be going well between brushing or using treats, it’s always a good idea to schedule regular visits with a veterinarian so they can make sure your pet’s teeth are healthy. They can help catch dental diseases before they get too serious. 

The same goes for people — while routine brushing is the foundation of proper dental hygiene, it’s always good to visit the dentist regularly to make sure there are no underlying issues or concerns. The team at Caring Smiles is always here to help make sure your teeth look and feel great!