Pets need dental care too!

80% of dogs and 72% of cats have signs of gum disease by age 3.

Gum disease can cause bad breath, pain and can lead to infection, tooth loss and sometimes organ damage. Brushing your pet’s teeth at least 3 times a week can significantly reduce gum disease. Many pet owners feel overwhelmed or not sure how to start brushing once their pet is past the puppy/kitten stage. Don’t worry, you can teach an old dog or cat new tricks.

Here are some tips to get your started. As always, if you have any questions or are having trouble, please reach out to us at 919-934-3511.

Get the tools you need

Choose a pet toothbrush, a child size soft-bristled brush or a finger brush. Purchase high-quality toothpaste made just for pets. With flavors like chicken, malt and vanilla mint, your pets are sure to like the taste.

Please don’t use human toothpaste as it can upset your pet’s stomach.

Introduce brushing slowly

Step One: With some toothpaste on the brush, start by letting your pet smell and taste it. Repeat this step for the first few days.

Step Two: Rub some paste on your pet’s teeth and gums. Gently pulling lips back to get them used to having their mouth handled. Praise and reward your pet with petting and their favorite treat so they associate having their teeth brushed as a pleasant experience.

Step Three: When it’s time to brush, gently pull your pet’s lips back and brush the outer surfaces of the teeth for about 30 seconds. Remember lots of praise, petting and treats. Gradually add more time and brush all tooth and gum surfaces.

There are other options

There are dental hygiene chews, rinses, water additives and even a food designed to help keep teeth cleaned. These are things that you can add to your pet’s dental health routine. They can especially be helpful if you are not able to brush or can’t brush every day.

Follow up

Be sure and visit the vet at least once a year for an exam, any vaccine updates and a professional dental health evaluation. During the dental health evaluation, we can assess your pet’s oral health and let you know what next steps need to be taken. We want your pet to live a long, healthy life and good dental hygiene is one great way to help that happen.

Dr. Ward and the team at Johnston Animal Hospital can answer any questions about your pet’s dental care or any other questions you may have. You can call us at 919-934-3511 or email us at