Top 5 Dental Conditions for Dogs and Cats

Insurance Data Reveals Common Oral Issues

The mouth is the source of many health issues for dogs and cats. In fact, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral and dental disease by age three. For cats, tooth infections are one of the top 10 reasons cats see vets each year.

It’s important for pets to have annual dental exams to ensure good health and prevent dental conditions that can be very painful. Nationwide pet insurance has listed the top 5 dental woes for dogs and cats based on policyholder claims submitted in 2016.

Top 5 Most Common Dental Conditions for Dogs

Dog shows off his smile
  1. Periodontitis, tooth infection, cavitiy and/or abscess
  2. Oral trauma or fractured tooth
  3. Benign oral tumor
  4. Gingivitis
  5. Deciduous teeth or complications thereof

Top 5 Most Common Dental Conditions for Cats

  1. Periodontitis, tooth infection, cavity or abscess
  2. Gingivitis 
  3. Tooth resorption
  4. Oral trauma or fractured tooth
  5. Ulcerative stomatitis


Also known as gum disease, periodontitis is the leading oral condition for both dogs and cats. Nationwide pet policyholders filed $10.1 million in periodontitis claims for dogs and $1.3 million in claims for cats in 2016. This condition is also the No. 1 cause of tooth loss in pets.

Tooth Infection, Cavity or Abscess

Often caused as a secondary condition due to periodontitis, dog owners filed an average $341 in individual Nationwide pet insurance claims, while cat owners filed more than $376 in individualclaims during 2016. Tooth infections, cavities and abscesses are very painful conditions to pets. Routine brushing and bi-annual checkups can be preventative.

Oral Trauma or Fractured Tooth

Pets are notably orally fixated. Their mouths get a lot of wear and tear and, in the process, accidents happen. In 2016, dog owners filed more than $1.4 million and cat owners filed more than $71,000 in Nationwide pet insurance claims to treat oral trauma or fractured teeth.

Benign Oral Tumor

Cat licks his mouth

Oral tumors can grow inside your pet’s mouth, creating discomfort and potentially issues eating. The good news is that not all of them are cancerous. Dog owners filed more than $1.2 million in claims to treat benign oral tumors in 2016.

Malignant Oral Tumor

Oral melanoma is an aggressive oral cancer that typically begins with a tumor growth inside your pet’s mouth. This condition is unfortunately life threatening and requires immediate treatment in order to prolong your pet’s life and prevent the cancer from growing. In 2016, dog owners filed more than $1.4 million in claims to treat malignant oral tumors.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption is a dental abnormality technically referred to as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion (FORL). These lesions develop at the pet’s neck or at the base of a tooth and are similar to cavities. While occasionally seen in dogs they occur very frequently in cats. Cats typically "chatter" or vibrate their jaws which is an obvious sign of pain due to tooth resporption. Cat owners filed more than $181,000 in claims with Nationwide in 2016.

Ulcerative Stomatitis

By definition, ulcerative stomatitis is the inflammation of the mucus lining of a pet’s mouth. This condition is worse than gingivitis: it means your pet has a wide-spread infection in his mouth that may extend into deeper tissues. This is very painful; pet owners may notice their pets have trouble chewing, or that typical behavior such as grooming and social interaction has significantly changed. In 2016, cat owners filed nearly $70,000 in claims to treat ulcerative stomatitis.