Every February we celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month as a reminder not to turn a blind nose to your pet’s oral health. Taking care of your pet’s teeth and gums goes a long way to ensuring overall good health.
While the majority of Americans brush their teeth at least twice every day, most of them do far less to prevent dental disease in their pets. Bad breath could signify a serious health risk with the potential to damage not only your pet’s teeth and gums, but its internal organs as well. To address the significance of oral health care for pets, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is sponsoring National Pet Dental Health Month in February and encourages you to schedule a dental exam for your pets.
“Regular dental exams are important to a pet’s overall health and can help prevent more serious health problems,” said Dr. John Howe, AVMA president. “It is important to have your pet’s teeth and gums checked by a veterinarian at least once a year for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.”
According to the American Veterinary Dental College, most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease by the age of three, often indicated by bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face and mouth, and depression.
Although daily tooth brushing is advised for dogs and cats, a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry showed that only 2 percent of dog owners follow through with this practice. In addition, a survey of pet owners showed that only 14 percent of dogs and 9 percent of cats receive dental care at the veterinarian’s office. Pet owners can work with their veterinarians to begin a pet dental care routine at home, in addition to regular dental exams and professional dental cleanings.
To learn more about dental care for pets, including causes and signs of oral health problems in pets and an instructional video on brushing pets’ teeth, visit avma.org/PetDental.