February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Dental health is a huge part of a pet’s overall health. Dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems, which is why annual comprehensive oral exams are so important for your pet.
Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats and is entirely preventable. By three years of age, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is painful and progressive. Left untreated, dental disease isn’t just bad for the pet’s teeth; it can actually damage internal organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys.
Would you know if your pet is suffering from painful dental disease?
Unfortunately, aside from bad breath, there are often few signs of the disease that are noticeable to the owner. Evidence of dental disease can include: loose or discolored teeth, tarter, drooling, bleeding from the mouth, chattering, or dropping food from the mouth.
Some pets will resist touching around the mouth. Sometimes the only symptom will be a quiet or “distant” animal. Behavior changes attributed to aging can often times be related to oral pain – not simply the aging process. Most pet dental disease occurs below the gums, where you can’t see it, which is why every pet should have a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT) once a year by a veterinarian.