February is National Pet Dental Health Month! Dental care is an important part of your pet’s health and longevity. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), dental disease affects up to 80% of dogs and cats by the time they are just three years old. Dental disease can impact not only your dog’s breath, gums and teeth, but also cause other diseases if not treated.
Signs to Watch For
Pets don’t show pain the same way humans do and their pain can often go undetected until the problem becomes more severe, so pay close attention to your puppy's mouth and behavior.
Signs of dental disease include, but are not limited to:
- Inflamed, reddened or bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Discolored or loose teeth
- Frequent licking of the mouth
- Constant pawing at the mouth
- Unwillingness or hesitance to chew food or toys
- Excessive drooling
- Other changes in behavior
If you notice any of these signs, or other concerns, be sure to make an appointment with your vet right away to prevent the situation from worsening. Since our pets can’t tell us what exactly is wrong, they rely on us to pay attention to their needs and ensure any ailments are addressed.
The good news is, dental disease can be prevented with proper, proactive treatment.
Brush your dog’s teeth daily using pet-specific products.
- Brush daily to remove plaque and tartar build up
- Avoid human toothpaste as it may be toxic to your pet
- Bonus: The daily routine of brushing can also help decrease the stress of your veterinarian performing their dental check during routine checkups
Remember that intermittent or occasional brushing will not have much benefit to your pup.
Chew toys can supplement daily tooth-brushing.
- Avoid extra hard bones or sticks that can chip or crack your dog’s teeth
- Choose ribbed or knobby rubber toys, ropes or chews that help scrape away plaque
- Make sure any toys and treats are safe for your dog and don’t pose a choking hazard
Ensure a thorough dental check is performed annually with your veterinarian.
- Discuss any concerns you might have
- Review your dog’s at-home dental care routine
- Determine what professional dental cleaning routine is best for your dog
Check out these sites for additional information on keeping your pup’s dental health in check: