Your pet’s oral health plays a crucial role in both their well-being and longevity, Dr. Kristin Walker, board certified veterinary dentist, shares a few signs of oral health problems in today’s veterinary blog.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has established February as National pet dental health month. February is National Pet Dental Awareness Month - Board Certified Veterinary Dentist Dr. Kristin Walker The AVMA reports that by the age of three, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats exhibit signs of dental disease—something that can be the catalyst for major health issues. Your family veterinarian is your first line of defense. He/she will thoroughly inspect your pet’s mouth during your annual visit, giving you a better chance to catch the dental disease early.

You know your pet best. Look at their teeth when possible; tartar may appear as a brownish-gold buildup on the teeth, close to the gumline. Redness or bleeding along the gumline may indicate gingivitis. Other signs of dental disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Swelling in the mouth

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, schedule an appointment with your family veterinarian right away. A professional dental cleaning lead by licensed veterinary professionals removes not only the visible plaque and tartar on the tooth surfaces but also the bacteria under the gumline. This eliminates potential sources of infection to the mouth and other organs and protects your pet from pain and tooth loss.


If you are concerned that your pet is behaving acutely abnormally, whether or not you suspect a dental or oral problem, it is always appropriate to consult your veterinarian right away. If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day


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