Hawthorne Animal Hospital explains why oral care is essential

Most pet owners do everything they can to protect the well-being of their dogs and cats, but one thing they often neglect to check is their teeth. As animals age, their bad breath is seen more as an annoyance than a sign that their health is in danger. However, bacteria that lingers in our furry friends’ mouths can travel through their bloodstream, putting their hearts, kidneys and livers at risk.

“As veterinarians, we often see cases of heart, liver or kidney disease that can be exacerbated by an animal’s rotting teeth and inflamed gums,” said Dr. Jennifer Davis of Hawthorne Animal Hospital at Glen Carbon. “Protecting our pet’s oral health every day takes less than a minute and can potentially help them live longer. But according to studies, less than seven percent of owners brush their pet’s teeth regularly.

Daily Brushing and Annual Checkups – Two Ways to Keep Your Pet’s Smile


During National Pet Dental Month in February, Hawthorne veterinarians recommend that pet owners make their dog’s or cat’s oral health a priority. As soon as a pet’s adult teeth appear, owners should brush them daily with a pet-appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste, as many contain fluoride and/or xylitol, which can be toxic to pets if ingested. Chew toys and dental treats approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) can help remove tartar and plaque between brushings.

Additionally, each pet should have a dental checkup and cleaning from a veterinarian once a year. At Hawthorne, all cleanings are performed under anesthesia to provide a stress-free experience for patients, allowing the dental team to remove plaque buildup below the gum line, examine the gums, tongue and palate to check for signs of tumors or abscesses, extract any infected teeth to eliminate pain and provide thorough cleaning and polishing. Digital x-rays of each tooth are also taken so that vets can detect any hidden issues, from infected roots to jaw fractures.

“Annual checkups are not only essential for keeping your pet’s teeth and gums healthy, but can help prevent more serious dental and medical issues that can be costly to treat,” Davis said.

If you have questions about your pet’s oral health or would like to schedule their dental exam and cleaning, contact Hawthorne Animal Hospital at 618-288-3971.

Hawthorne is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAAH), a designation that only 12-17% of veterinary clinics in the United States currently hold. For more information, visit www.hawthorneanimals.com.

Benjamin M. Yerger