Brush Up on your Pets Oral Care

February Is Pet Dental Health Awareness Month

February is pet dental health awareness month. When was the last time you checked Max or Fluffy’s pearly (or not-so-pearly) whites…or took them to the veterinarian for a dental exam?

Many pet owners may not realize just how crucial oral care is; according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), an organization dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary medicine, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three.

Dental Disease Can Be Deadly

Vet brushes dog's teeth

While those are dangerously high numbers, research indicates that when it comes to our fuzzy friends, dental care is not a priority. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association National Pet Owners Survey reports that only 16% of dogs and 8% of cats receive dental care at the veterinarian’s office.

Dental care is key in maintaining a pet’s overall health. Bacteria in an animal’s mouth can get into a pet’s bloodstream and infuse different organs, causing infections that can potentially cause death. The AVMA reports the organs most often affected by oral diseases are the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver, and even the nervous system.

Three Simple Steps to Dental Care

Pet owners can brush up on their four-legged friends’ oral care by following three simple guidelines:

Vet examines dog's teeth
  • Take your pet to get a dental exam. Your pet should have a routine veterinarian examination, including a careful examination of his teeth and gums, at least once a year.
  • Start an at-home regimen. Ask your veterinarian to suggest nutritional supplements and a regular teeth brushing schedule or a specially formulated food proven to help remove plaque and tarter from your pet’s teeth.
  • Schedule dental cleanings. Take your pet for regular dental checkups.

Signs Of Dental Disease

So, what are some indicators that your cat or dog may have dental disease? The American Veterinary Medical Association, lists the following on their Web site:

  • Bad breath
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
  • Reduced appetite or refusla to eat
  • Pain in or around the mouth
  • Drooling or dropping food from the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Swelling in the areas surrnounding the mouth

Your pet’s dental health is just as important as your own; if your pet shows any of these signs, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Dental Coverage for Pets

Did you know that Nationwide’s medical plans cover eligible dental disease expenses — everything from tooth abscesses to root canals and periodontal disease? To learn more, click here.