Saturday, February 6, 2016

February: Pet Dental Health Month

~ Revised from an original post in 2013

As you may have already heard, February is Pet Dental Health Month.

Did you know that many experts believe dental disease is the number one disease seen by veterinarians? Almost all adult dogs and cats have some form of it.

Inflamed gums around fang & molars from plaque Photo: Marco d'Itri
Over 75% of cats who have their teeth cleaned suffer from tooth resorption and over 80% of dogs over age 5 have periodontal disease. And tartar buildup is common to both.

Why cats are prone to tooth resorption while dogs are more impacted by periodontal disease is a mystery.

Tooth resorption sounds almost like an autoimmune disease: the cat’s own cells attack and wear away at his tooth until it is destroyed. The cause is unknown, though there is some speculation about it.

Faraday: Wait. My toofs are attacking themselves???

Periodontal disease in pets is the same as it is in humans: inflammation around the tooth where the gums pull away and form infected pockets that begin to break down the bone and connective tissue that holds teeth in place.

Needless to say…both are bad for your pet!

There’s this odd phenomenon that occurs when talking about tooth care – and it happens to both humans and pets. People tend to place less importance on dental care than they do basic medical care.

Why is this so? It’s odd, but we tend to forget that our mouth is connected to our body. Most people don’t consider that bacteria thriving in tooth decay can enter the bloodstream and infect critical organs such as the heart, liver or kidneys.

That’s true both for people and for pets.

In older cats especially, oral infections can have a damaging impact on the kidneys. And by the way, renal failure (kidney disease)? It's irreversible. Unlike humans, dialysis is not readily available as a treatment option for failing kidneys, and it's very difficult to administer. And though there have been successful kidney transplants in cats, it's expensive and comes with its own set of complications. Bottom line: help keep your cat's kidneys healthy by keeping his teeth healthy.

Good dental care isn’t that difficult if approached properly, and Dr. Jean Hofve of Little Big Cat has outlined a good five-step plan to get your cat used to daily brushing that works – if you commit to sticking with it. And there are additives you can put in your pet's drinking water that help fight plaque and are Veterinary Oral Health Care approved.


In addition, annual (and depending on the breed, sometimes twice-annual) professional cleaning can work to prevent major dental catastrophes down the line as your pet ages.

Have you ever scheduled a dental cleaning for your pet? Now might be an excellent time to do so, as many veterinarians offer discounts on routine cleaning during February, in honor of Pet Dental Heath Month.

Ours does, and I've taken advantage of that discount for both Faraday and Maxwell (much to their chagrin).

How is your pet's dental health?


  1. This is such an important reminder! Thank you. I'm due my dental next month so will be keeping an eye on things from now on...

  2. My mum says good dental hygiene is very important. She just remembered when she read this that she was going to book me in when I had my blood stolen on Thursday. Sounds like she will be ringing the torture place on Monday.

  3. My human is the opposite of most humans - she hasn't been to a doctor in years... but she sees her dentist every six months without fail! She does brush my teeth but not often enough. Not sure why she's so lazy about it - I actually like it because the toothpaste tastes like treats!

  4. Our meowmy used to be religious about toothbrushing all of us...but somehow she furgets a lot lately...sigh...
    We sure hope we get to keep all the teeth we still have...Pipo has lost a couple and Minko has some that nevfur were there in the furst place, Wow.

    Dog-guy had to have one removed when it broke...ouch. He gets a dental spray evfurry day, but we will not allow meowmy to do that to us. She is lucky if our gums can be massaged with her fingers...OMC!

  5. I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

  6. Great information...Proper dental care for your dogs and cats is a key to the overall health of your pet.Most experts agree that daily brushing is ideal, but if that's unrealistic, aim for three to four times per week. And don't be an overachiever: If your pup's patience only lasts for you to brush half his teeth today and the other half tomorrow, that's fine. Just remember which half you did each day!
    With love: Pet bounce care


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