February has been designated as National Pet Dental Health Month. At first thought, your pet’s teeth may seem like an insignificant health risk, but according to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 85 percent of dogs and cats show signs of oral disease by age four.
Very similar to humans, the main culprit is food particles and bacteria building up in the mouth, resulting in plaque, tartar, and gingivitis. From there, things can deteriorate if not treated. Gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease, tooth decay, bleeding gums, and in severe cases, tooth loss. To make matters worse, the bacteria from periodontal disease can travel into a pet’s bloodstream affecting the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver and nervous system—which could result in fatal organ failure—all treatable and preventable when caught at an early stage!
All pets are at risk for developing dental problems. It is important to have your pet carefully examined annually by your veterinarian. Good news, during February, all around the Treasure Valley, many general practice veterinarians are offering discounts on dental exams, care, and treatment. Call your primary care veterinarian today for an appointment and with any questions.
In the meantime, here are some warning signs of developing dental problems:
• Bad breath
• Tartar buildup on the teeth
• Swollen, receding or bleeding gums
• Fractured or abscessed teeth
• Change in eating habits
Dental care of our dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care, but with some effort, this trend can change, resulting in happier and healthier pets and owners.