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Quick Facts:

  • Puppies develop 28 temporary teeth at two to three weeks of age. Their 42 permanent teeth emerge at about four months.
  • Studies show that, by age 3, 80 percent of dogs exhibit signs of gum disease.
  • Small dog breeds are more likely than large breeds to develop periodontal disease. Canine dentistry experts believe this is because the teeth of small dogs often are too large for their mouths, forcing the teeth closer together.
  • Kittens have about 26 temporary teeth at two to three weeks of age. Their 30 permanent teeth erupt at about three to four months.
  • According to studies, about 70 percent of cats have signs of gum disease by age 3.
  • Cervical line lesions are the most common tooth disease in domestic cats. Studies show that about 28 percent of domestic cats develop at least one of these painful lesions during their lifetime.

Dental Home Care:

  • The American Veterinary Dental Society considers daily brushing the single most important aspect of regular dental care. In addition to daily brushing, dental treats, toys and therapeutic diets can be a part of your pet’s home care and may delay the need for further dentistry. How quickly your pet will develop periodontal disease (inflammation/infection of some or all of the tooth’s support structures) and when your pet will need periodontal therapy depends on many variables. These variables include: proper home care, diet, age, breed and size of patient, health status, and most importantly, genetic disposition. Just like humans, some pets are born with better mouths than others.

  • Family Pet’s website library features links to videos on how to brush your cat’s or dog’s teeth!

    Do’s and Don’ts

    • Don’t use a human toothpaste on your pet, as it contains ingredients that can harm your pet
    • Do use a toothbrush without any paste at first so that your pet may get used to the object in the mouth before having to contend with flavor
    • Don’t attempt to clean the inner surface of your pet’s teeth. Natural saliva cleans this surface on its own.
    • Do try to perform dental home care at least once daily.
    • Don’t let your dog chew on cow hooves or bones as these are too hard and teeth may break against them.

    TREATS and FOODS that can help keep your pet’s mouth healthy:

    • The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) was created in 1997 to certify veterinary dental products that effectively control plaque and calculus in cats and dogs. For products positioned for different-sized pets, the manufacturer must submit separate efficacy studies for each size. For more information, visit www.vohc.org/accepted_products - or see our handout which lists all of the approved products to date.
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