Everything Dental Health

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. A time when many pet owners begin to question whether that puppy breath is normal or if your cat’s aversion to chin rubs may be the result of more than just being finicky.

Signs of oral and dental diseases in dogs and cats:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose or discolored teeth
  • Your pet shies away from you when you touch the mouth area
  • Drooling or dropping food from the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss

The American Animal Hospital Association says that up to 85% of cats and dogs over the age of three already have some degree of dental disease. That’s a scary thought when you consider that poor oral health can affect a lot more than our pet’s mouths. Bacteria and infection in the mouth can travel through the bloodstream to vital organs.

Don’t worry, there are still steps you can take that will have a positive impact on your pet’s dental health. Not all cats and dogs will react favorably to having their teeth brushed – especially not at first. If you have never brushed your pet’s teeth, it is a good idea to speak to the veterinarian that knows your pet for helpful tips to make it as simple as possible. Even your Veterinarian will tell you this isn’t always an easy task. Just don’t give up and your pet will thank you!

Pro tip – Don’t use human toothpaste for your pets. You wouldn’t use your dog’s shampoo on your hair, right? It goes both ways. Make sure you get a pet safe product and that you follow the directions carefully.

Dental treats can be helpful, too, when used appropriately. There is a limit to how much and how often these should be given. Dental treats shouldn’t be the only tactic for your pet’s dental care plan.

There are some brands of pet food and water supplements made specifically for pets that already show signs of periodontal disease. Speak to the veterinarian that regularly sees your pet, to find out what you can be doing as part of an at-home dental care plan. Your pet may require professional cleaning or descaling, meaning that your job at home will be maintaining their newly polished smile. Your vet should be checking your pet’s teeth as part of their yearly exam – but this can only tell you so much. Sometimes, it takes a deeper investigation to get to the real “root” of the problem, excuse the pun. Prevention is key. Why not take this opportunity to talk to your vet about scheduling a dental exam or professional cleaning?

I want to help answer your questions, whether they are about dental health or not. I will be popping in on Pethealth’s social media channel from time to time each month – and I’m all ears. Visit Pethealth’s Facebook or Twitter page to let me know what you want me to talk about next!

About the Author: Veterinary professional Dr. Craig Galbraith has worked with Pethealth for over eight years, offering expert advice geared toward creating more efficient programs to help improve lost pet recovery and mitigate the cost of veterinary treatment for pet owners. Source: American Veterinary Dental College, AVDC.org


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