As part of Pet Dental Health Month, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is advising veterinarians to encourage pet owners to make their pet’s oral health care a top priority and to schedule professional exams.
According to AVMA president John de Jong, DVM, pet owners should be made aware that poor oral health could lead to potentially life-threatening damage to their pet’s internal organs as a result of periodontal disease.
“Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for our pets,” says Dr. de Jong. “In addition to causing receding gums, tooth loss, and significant pain, bacteria in the mouth enters the bloodstream potentially affecting the heart, liver, and kidneys, which can be life-threatening.”
AVMA reports most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease by the age of three, indicated by bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face and mouth, and depression.
A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry (JOVD) showed that only two percent of dog owners follow through on brushing their pets’ teeth. In addition, a survey of pet owners showed that only 14 percent of dogs and nine percent of cats receive dental care at the veterinarian’s office.
Veterinarians should advise clients to set up a regular at-home oral routine for pets as a way to prevent further problems from developing, says de Jong.