What to look for
While some amount of bad breath is to be expected, keep an eye out for these signs of something more serious, from the American Veterinary Medical Association:
- Red swollen gums and brownish teeth.
- Breath that resembles the smell of a rotten egg.
- Bleeding from the mouth, or frequent pawing at the face and/or mouth.
- Reluctance to eat hard foods.
Regular vet visits are important for preventing any medical problem, but there are some things that can be done on a regular basis for dogs and cats, as recommended by the American Veterinary Dental College:
- Brushing and toothpaste. Toothpaste for dogs is flavored and if your dog isn't a fan of the toothbrush, start slow. Just rub it on their teeth with your finger or a finger toothbrush, and it will help!
- Chew toys
- Dental chews
Cats can be a bit trickier, but some of the same techniques apply: brushing, special diet, dental gels or rinses. You can find more information here.
This video has some great tips for gradually getting your cat or dog used to having their teeth brushed: