A pet’s bad breath may be the first indicator of a significant health risk - periodontal disease. The Arizona Veterinary Medical Association (AzVMA) recognizes National Pet Dental Health Month in February as an important reminder to schedule a dental checkup with your pet’s veterinarian and to ensure proper dental care all year long.
Periodontal disease, inflammation of the tissues around the teeth in response to the presence of bacteria, is the most commonly seen clinical condition in veterinary offices, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), sponsor of the observance. By the age of three, many dogs and cats show signs of periodontal disease. Ultimately, it can cause tooth pain and loss, loss of appetite, liver disease, kidney failure, and infection that could be life-threatening.
“Dogs and cats often appear to eat normally even when significant infection or oral pain is present. Taking radiographs (X-rays) of every tooth is the most important step in evaluating oral health, since more than half of each tooth is below the gumline and not visible during an examination and cleaning should be performed annually by a veterinarian,” says Dr. Curt Coffman, DVM, Diplomate AVDC, of Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists, Scottsdale.
Annual oral exams and dental cleanings under general anesthesia are recommended. When you schedule your own dental checkup, make an extra call to set your pet’s appointment if needed. It’s an easy way to ensure not only your pet's dental health, but its overall well-being by avoiding the serious issues that result from poor dental hygiene.