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Pet parent preparing toothbrush for small dog

Pet dental health tips

Did you know that February is Pet Dental Health month? According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop some form of oral disease by 3 years of age. Further, a separate study revealed only 14% of dogs and 9% of cats regularly visit their veterinarian for professional dental care.

President Dr. Jeff Smith from the California Veterinary Medical Association stated, “Oral disease can lead to serious consequences for pets, including infection, severe pain and even organ damage. With regular oral health maintenance and check-ups, most of these problems can be avoided.” The bacteria in your pet’s mouth can enter the bloodstream causing infection, or in rare cases, death.

Signs Of Dental Issues In Pets

To prevent major problems, your pet should have a dental cleaning once per year by your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to detect any early signs of an issue, such as periodontal disease, and schedule the appropriate care. If you notice any of these signs of poor dental health, an early vet visit is necessary:

  • bad breath
  • broke/loose teeth
  • discolored or tartar-covered teeth
  • abnormal chewing or drooling
  • reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • bleeding from the mouth
  • swelling in the mouth
  • irritable behavior (especially when handling the mouth)
  • pawing at face or mouth

Tips for Good Oral Health In Pets

Prevention is key for maintaining good oral health and avoiding potential problems. Unfortunately, only 1% of pet owners brush their pet’s teeth on a regular basis. While daily brushing is the best way to prevent poor dental health, there are a few other options that can assist in maintaining good dental health:

  • dental chews (bully sticks, etc.)
  • proper nutrition
  • plaque-targeting toys

The benefits of proper dental health go far beyond preventing discomfort for your pet or avoiding costly vet bills. Studies have suggested that maintaining good oral health can add up to 5 years to your pet’s life.


Kelsie McKenzie is the owner and fur-covered girl behind the scenes of It's Dog or Nothing, a resource for ‘all things Pyrenees.’ She currently lives near Seattle with her Air Force husband and two Great Pyrenees, Mauja and Atka. Kelsie is also a content creator, social media manager, and an avid animal lover.

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