Vet Corner: 4 Pet Dental Health Tips

Feb 18, 2021

In honor of Pet Dental Health Month, we worked closely with one of our Chief Veterinary Officers, Dr. Colleen Smith to provide pet parents with education on how they can care for their pet’s dental health in a holistic fashion. Dr. Smith currently practices at her holistic animal clinic in Chattanooga, TN called Chattanooga Holistic Animal Institute. Read below to learn more about pet dental health as well as some dental care tips that you can use in the comfort of your home!

Written by: Colleen Smith, DVM, CVA, CVCP

February is Dental Month, but that is not the only time for you to get your pets teeth cleaned. Both cats and dogs need their teeth cleaned and the number of cleanings depend on their diet, chewing habits and even body size.

Can kibble clean my dog’s teeth?

Let’s talk diet first since there is a big myth going around about a type of diet that is said to clean teeth. I often hear clients say they offer their cats or dogs dry kibble food because it is thought to clean their teeth. My follow-up question is this—after your dinner, try eating a biscotti (because they are a very hard food) and then DON’T brush your teeth afterwards, does it clean your teeth? What happens is the carbohydrates from the hard food will attract bacteria and tartar gets worse. If you did not brush your teeth every night for a week, they would feel quite ‘fuzzy’! Neither kibble nor biscotti is really hard enough to create a scraping action on the tooth surface, plus they are both too dry. Most dry kibble is incredibly low in moisture therefore it decreases the ability of saliva to flush bacteria down to the stomach.

Let’s talk chewing habits!

Chewing habits in pets vary tremendously. Some dogs, especially when they are young chew for several hours a day. Some older dogs do not like chewing at all, possibly even due to tooth pain. If your pet is not a big chewer then will most likely need dental cleanings more often.

Small dog teeth vs. Big dog teeth

Oddly enough, we have found that small dogs appear to have softer enamel than big dogs. This exacerbates the tartar and plaque build-up and they often need more cleanings per year than their bigger buddies. Another unfortunate issue with smaller dogs is they seem to have more heart murmurs and cardiac disease. Research has shown that in humans and dogs, certain bacteria in the mouth have an affinity for heart valves. This is called endocarditis and will worsen cardiac function and decrease the quality of their lives.

Your pet’s teeth are so important to their overall health. If you are concerned about the technique or the recovery process, please speak with your veterinarian about the dental prophylactic procedure. Pet Releaf CBD for dogs and cats are great way to help your pet feel relaxed for their day at the veterinary hospital.

4 Pet Dental Health Tips:

Learn 4 pet dental health tips from Dr. Colleen Smith that you can practice at home with your dogs and cats!

1. Brushing Teeth Daily

You can use a regular toothbrush, pet specific brush or pet finger brush. Hold your pet’s mouth closed and brush teeth along both sides and front teeth. Most of the tartar buildup happens on these outer and front teeth. Most dogs will not tolerate inside teeth being brushed and that is okay.

2. Homemade Dog Toothpaste Recipe

Coconut Oil: 1/4 Cup

Baking Soda: 3 Tablespoons

Fine Sea Salt (NOT table salt): 1/2 Teaspoon

Cinnamon: 1/2 Teaspoon

Optional Taste: 6 sprigs of Parsley and/or 5 or 6 mint leaves (if adding mint leaves, you will need to use a food processor.)

Optional Taste: choose from 1/2 teaspoon of either:

Beef Broth or Chicken Broth

Adding Optional Fresh Herbs: Simply combine the ingredients together and let sit for an hour or so to form. If adding mint leaves or parsley (or both), you will need to use a food processor to really break down the leaves. Your toothpaste will turn a beautiful green so no need to panic.

3. Water Additive

We recommend Healthy Mouth; this can be purchased at

When added daily to pets’ drinking water or applied to teeth and gums with the topical gel applicator, the formula safely cleans teeth and gums, reducing plaque, oral bacteria that causes inflammation leading to dental disease and inhibiting the bacteria and germs that are the source of halitosis. Clinical trials and field use have also revealed that plaque, and bacterial reduction continues to improve the longer the product is used, and that any remaining plaque is significantly softened, making the use of tooth brushing, dental diets, and chew-bones even more effective for small animals.

4. Healthy Gums Mouth and Gum Support for Dogs and Cats:

Healthy Gums from Animal Essentials helps support the health of the gums and mouth. It contains certified organic chamomile flower, thyme leaf, fennel seed, goldenseal root and wild crafted myrrh gum. Apply directly to the gums of the mouth with a cotton swab or applicator twice daily as directed. To avoid contamination do not allow dropper tip to touch the patient’s mouth.

If there are topics that you want our Veterinarian partners to discuss in upcoming blogs, make sure to send us over a direct message on Instagram, Facebook, or email us over at [email protected].

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