Common Pet Dental Problems


Dental Health Problems in Dogs and Cats

Dog Dental Care

With our pets living longer lives due to better medical treatments, diagnostic tools and advanced nutrition, pets are healthier and happier than ever. However, with longer lives bring more cases of dental diseases. In fact, most of the severe medical problems diagnosed in veterinary hospitals are dental problems. It’s our responsibility to ensure our pets have good dental health.

Puppies have 28 baby teeth that erupt at about four weeks of age and have 42 adult teeth around four months of age. Kittens have 26 baby teeth at around three weeks and have 30 adult teeth around three to four months of age.

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Common Pet Dental Care Problems

Periodontal Disease

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease with periodontal disease–the most common problem in dogs, especially the smaller breeds.

Broken Teeth

Another common problem is broken teeth, especially with outdoor dogs and cats. This can be caused by aggressive chewing on something hard. Many times, it’s due to a commercially available chew toy. About 28 percent of cats can develop painful lesions during their lifetime.


Just like their human counterparts, pets get plaque and tartar buildup. Plaque forms when food and bacteria collect along the gum line. If the plaque is not removed, it combines with the minerals in saliva, creating tartar (or calculus) within three to five days after it forms.

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Gingivitis is the tartar that causes the gums to become inflamed and looks like reddening of the gums next to the teeth. This contributes to bad breath with red and inflamed gums. You can learn more about these signs from your local veterinary assistant.

Tartar Buildup

Tartar buildup can cause pockets around the teeth that cause bacteria to build up. The damage is usually irreversible and can cause loose teeth, bone loss and infection. This condition is known as periodontal disease. If the buildup of bacteria enters the bloodstream, this can cause endocarditis (infection of the heart valves) or kidney infection. With proper care from your veterinarian, the disease can be slowed or stopped.

The old days of just pulling teeth are becoming a thing of the past, as dental care procedures are becoming more sophisticated and new products being developed. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to ensure your pet’s teeth are clean and healthy.


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  1. says

    The information in this article about dental issues for cats was a real eye opener. It’s crazy that 28% of cats can develop lesions in their mouth. It seems like I should have my cat’s dental health checked out more often, especially because she’s an outdoor cat that doesn’t see the dentist very often.

  2. says

    Thanks for the information. To be brutally honest, I haven’t thought much about the oral healthy of my cat. I guess I just assumed she’d be okay without any help from me. I’m going to follow your tip about watching for tartar buildup. If I notice there’s a lot, I’ll make sure I bring her to the pet dentist.

  3. says

    I had no idea that it was so common for dogs and cats to have broken teeth. However, it definitely makes sense that this would be the case. It seems like these animals are always chewing on something really hard. That would definitely cause a lot of tooth damage. That is why it is so important for you to properly take care of your pets teeth.

  4. says

    I’m not surprised that dogs and cats can have dental problems. I’m just surprised that they can become such an issue. Are there any easy tricks to keep my dog’s teeth healthy?

  5. says

    I was expecting things like periodontal disease and gingivitis to be on this list, but I didn’t expect to see broken teeth as well. I had no idea that something like that would be a very common dental problem for pets. What can typically be done for a pet after they’ve broken one of their teeth? Would it be possible to fix the broken tooth, or does it usually need to be pulled at that point?

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