Every February, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) dedicates the month to caring for your pet’s teeth. Known as National Pet Dental Health month, the AVMA strives to educate pet owners on the dangers of periodontal disease.
What is Periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats. The disease is more than just plaque on teeth – it is bacteria growing below the gum line that damages the tissue connecting the teeth and jaw. It can lead to gum recession, loose teeth, bone loss, fractured jaws, and even damage to internal organs, such as the kidney, liver, and heart.
Believe it or not, this disease is completely preventable, yet 80 percent of dogs show symptoms by the age of three.
How do I know if my pet has periodontal disease?
The beginning symptoms of periodontal disease can be smelly and ugly. These symptoms include:
- bad breath
- broken or loose teeth
- extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
- abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
- reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- pain in or around the mouth
- bleeding from the mouth
- swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
How can I prevent my pet from getting periodontal disease?
The best way to prevent the disease is to brush your pet’s teeth regularly. The AVMA recommends daily brushing, but says that even three times a week can make a big difference. They offer a tutorial video to show how best to keep those teeth healthy:
Also, make regular appointments with the vet to check on dental care. If the vet finds evidence of periodontal disease, they can do a professional dental cleaning to remove the bacteria from your pet's teeth and gum line. This involves a general anesthesia, but pets usually recover within 10-15 minutes of the procedure and are home the same day.
How else can I help my pet have healthy teeth?
Along with regular brushing, the AVMA recommends several types of treats and toys that can help keep teeth clean such as rubber chew toys with grooves. Insert a treat inside the chew toy, (we recommend Healthy Partners Pet Snacks), and give it to your dog. The grooves will scrape along the pet's teeth as he works to get out the treat.
To learn more about dental health for your pet, visit the AVMA’s website; they offer many resources to help pet owners.
Article written by Melissa Wheeler