Choosing a Pet Oral Hygiene Solution

Pet oral hygiene rinses help maintain the health of your dog’s or cat’s teeth and gums. They can be an important part of at-home dental care for your pet. Let’s see how these products work, the oral health conditions they help control and how they fit into your pet’s overall dental health plan. We’ll also discuss the warning signs of a dental problem in your pet so you’ll know what to do if the situation presents itself.

How Pet Oral Hygiene Rinses Protect Your Pet’s Mouth

Two main types of oral hygiene rinses exist for our pets: a chlorhexidine oral gel or spray that you apply directly to the inside of your pet’s cheeks, or a solution that you add to your pet’s water. The type you choose depends on whether or not your dog is comfortable with you handling his mouth and muzzle. If he is, a chlorhexidine spray may prove useful. If he isn't, you may want to opt for the water additive instead.

The chlorhexidine spray gradually releases protection to your pet’s teeth and gums, and it provides up to 12 hours of antibacterial benefits that help keep your pet’s mouth clean. Some manufacturers add flavors to their products to make them more easily accepted by your pet.

Oral rinses that are added to a pet’s drinking water freshen his breath and provide antibacterial action to help clean and protect your pet’s teeth and gums.

Health Problems that Pet Oral Hygiene Rinses Help Control

Oral hygiene rinses can help control tartar and plaque buildup, which often serves as the starting point for many mouth problems in our pets, including tooth decay and gum disease. It’s estimated that 70 percent of pet cats and 80 percent of pet dogs over the age of 3 have some form of gum disease, which can also cause problems, such as heart, kidney and liver disease, in your pet.

Other Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Pet’s Oral Health

Oral hygiene rinses are one important part of an overall three-part oral health plan for your pet. It can also replace brushing in the event your dog does not tolerate having his teeth brushed.

Another important part of the plan is a regular routine of tooth brushing to keep your pet’s teeth and mouth free of food debris, which can develop into plaque and tartar and form the foundation for future dental decay, gum disease or tooth loss. Most dog owners begin training their puppies to accept tooth brushing, but most adult dogs with patient owners will also learn to have their teeth brushed.

The third part of your pet’s oral health plan should be regular dental examinations and cleanings by your veterinarian. Your pet will be anesthetized for this procedure, which should include

  • a complete examination of the mouth
  • plaque and tartar removal
  • repair of any existing problems 
  • a thorough dental cleaning both above and below the gumline

Symptoms of Pet Oral Problems

Make an appointment for your pet’s teeth and mouth to be examined if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • bad breath
  • bleeding from the gums or mouth
  • loss of appetite
  • pawing at the mouth
  • shying away from being touched on the muzzle or mouth