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Dr. Claire Jenkins' top 5 pet dental questions... and her answers

Published on 9 Aug 2021

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Below Dr. Claire from VetChat shares insights to some of the most commonly asked pet dental care questions for cats and dogs - as always, ensure you chat to a Veterinarian as specific recommendations can only be made after learning more about your individual pets needs and situation.  

1. Why does my pet have bad breath?

The most common cause of bad breath is dental disease. This is due to the presence of odour producing bacteria in your pets mouth. It’s painful and can affect their health as a whole. Other possible causes include other diseases of the mouth, and problems within the chest or abdomen. 

Bad breath can also commonly occur during teething time as the baby teeth are falling out. 

If you notice your pet has bad breath, it’s important to talk to a Vet right away

2. Should I brush my pet's teeth?

Just as we do, dogs and cats need daily attention to keep their mouths clean. It not only makes those close cuddles more pleasant, it also goes a long way to help avoid the hip pocket pain with professional cleaning.

Regular tooth brushing, when done properly, is a great way to look after your pet's teeth. If you haven’t brushed your pet's teeth before - please get a check up first - brushing an already sore mouth isn’t good as it will cause pain. We need to start before there is a problem, and if there is a problem - only after that has been treated. 

Brushing starts after the adult teeth have come in, around 6/7 months of age, but we should help them be familiar with being touched around the mouth from earlier on. 

3. Can I give my pet bones to chew on?

Bones are commonly fed to pets as a way to help keep their mouth clean, provide nutrition and have them entertained. 

Feeding bones is not without risk, and Veterinarians see and treat the negative consequences of bone feeding all the time. Feeding bones can cause painful fracturing of baby and adult teeth, upset tummies, weight gain, gut obstructions, constipation and behavioural issues when guarding. 

If you plan to feed bones, they must be raw, fresh, appropriately sized for your pet (not too small to be swallowed or too large), soft (no marrow bones), trimmed of fat, and discarded within a couple of hours of use. Even with these precautions, feeding bones can cause painful and expensive health issues, and there are alternatives.

Always monitor your pet closely and seek Veterinary care if anything seems “not right”.

4. Is it normal for teeth to fall out?

For puppies and kittens, this is very normal. Like us, they have baby teeth that fall out. These teeth fall out usually between 12 and 30 weeks of age, and they are replaced by the adult teeth which emerge from the gum below. 

For adults, it is not normal for adult teeth to become loose, chip, fracture or fall out. When this occurs it’s often due to the presence of dental disease, to trauma from chewing on something hard, or could also be a sign of illness.

5. Why does my pet have two teeth in the same spot in their mouth?

Mostly the baby teeth fall out and the adult teeth take their place, but sometimes the baby teeth stay in the mouth even when the adult teeth come through. We term this retained baby teeth. Two teeth occupying the one spot in your puppy's mouth causes crowding, and can cause the adult tooth to come in crooked, possibly causing later problems.

There is no way to prevent retained deciduous teeth. The treatment is often removing them under anesthesia to prevent shifting of adult teeth and tartar buildup. Many Vets will do this when the pet is already under anesthesia for desexing. 

VetChat is here to support you in best caring for your pet by giving you easy access to Veterinarians online 24/7, so you can feel confident, happy and informed. 



Dr. Claire Jenkins VetChat founder & CEO

Dr. Claire Jenkins

VetChat founder & CEO, BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (SAM)

Claire has spent the past 15 years caring for animals as a Small Animal Veterinarian in the UK, Melbourne and is now based in Sydney. She is passionate about early intervention and how easy access to the right advice drives better health outcomes for pets. Claire’s a life-long animal lover, passionate problem solver and adorer of her gorgeous Kelpie ‘Red’.

Dr. Claire Jenkins's Pets

  • RedRed