Healthy Mouth, Happy Pet: Preventing, Recognising and Treating Gingivitis

Reading progress

Just like humans, pets are susceptible to dental issues, including the common problem of gingivitis.  Unfortunately pet oral hygiene is easily overlooked to the detriment of a dog/cat’s overall health and wellbeing. 

This recent visitor at our hospital presented with an advanced case of gingivitis that resulted in decay spreading to the jawbone.  Fortunately it was no match for the skills of our inhouse veterinarian and although several teeth had to be extracted, the patient is expected to make a full recovery. 

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a common dental problem in both dogs and cats, characterised by inflammation of the gums. It occurs when plaque and tartar build up on the teeth, leading to the growth of bacteria. If left untreated, gingivitis causes pain, tooth loss, and other health complications.

Recognising the Signs of Gingivitis

Dogs and cats should not have disagreeable mouth odour. Bad breath indicates the presence of infection.

  1. The leading sign of Gingivitis is bad breath, coupled with your pet’s reluctance to you touching their mouth
  2. Discoloured teeth or visible tartar build up that starts at the gum line.
  3. Red or swollen gums.
  4. Reluctance to eat or chew on favourite toys.

Treating Gingivitus

A thorough cleaning performed by a veterinarian is necessary to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria from your pet’s teeth and gums. This procedure is done under anesthesia to ensure the comfort and safety of your pet.

If Gingivitis is advanced, many cats or dogs will develop painful lesions at the gum line that invade the teeth. They are properly referred to as tooth resorptions. Unfortunately the causes of tooth resorption are unknown, and the most effective treatment is extraction of the affected tooth. 

Preventing Gingivitis

The good news is that gingivitis is preventable with consistent oral hygiene practices. Here are some effective strategies to safeguard your pet’s oral health:

Regular Brushing: Use a toothbrush and toothpaste specially formulated for pets. Brush their teeth gently in a circular motion, focusing on the gum line. Aim for daily brushing, but at least once a week is recommended.

Dental Chews and Toys: Offer dental chews or toys designed to promote oral health. These products can help remove plaque and tartar, reducing the risk of gingivitis. Look for options approved by veterinary professionals.

Balanced Diet: Feed your pet a balanced diet that supports their dental health. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure their nutritional needs are being met. Some specialised pet foods are formulated to support oral hygiene.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule routine dental check-ups with your veterinarian. They will examine your pet’s teeth and gums, perform professional cleanings if required, and offer guidance on home dental care.

Our Vets Recommend

Pet Dent Finger Toothbrushes and pastes for dogs and cats are available at our Vet Shops in Grassy Park and Plumstead.  Hills Dental Care Specialty Food can be used as an additive to an existing kibble to enhance your dog’s oral care.


A recent patient with advanced Gingivitis

Share This



Thank you for helping our Animal Hospital to deliver veterinary care to the hundreds of animals who come through our doors.

Thank you for everything you do to help make this a better world for all animals.

Contact Our Inspectorate

The SPCA is the only organisation that offers a 24-hour Inspectorate service.

Contact our Inspectorate by calling us on
(021) 700-4158/9
083 326 1604 (after hours)

Hospital SPCA 1 By BRIGFORD -103

A Gift That Lasts Past A Lifetime

It was a bequest made by the late Val Gorfinkel that enabled our Animal Hospital to receive a much-needed revamp about 16 years ago. That upgrade helped ensure that 40 000 animals received veterinary help during the past year.

Find out how to become an Animal Guardian by leaving a gift for us in your will.

More Hospital News

Shopping Basket