AVMA reminds pet owners about the importance of oral health

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and the AVMA is urging owners to bring their pets in for exams.

Most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease by the age of 3, according to the American Veterinary Dental College. But even though daily tooth brushing is advised for dogs and cats, research shows that only 2% of dog owners actually do it. And a survey of pet owners found that only 14% of dogs and 9% of cats receive dental care at the vet’s office, the AVMA says.

The organization has a website dedicated to dental health that pet owners can refer to so they can learn about oral health and the signs they should look out for to know if their pet might be in need of dental care—things like bad breath, discolored teeth or reduced appetite.

“Regular dental exams are important to a pet’s overall health and can help prevent more serious health problems,” said Dr. John Howe, AVMA president. “It is important to have your pet’s teeth and gums checked by a veterinarian at least once a year for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.”

Dvm360 published a list of one veterinary dentist’s recommendations of products doctors can recommend for their clients to keep their pets’ mouths healthy. To start, Dr. Jan Bellows says vets can look out for a seal of acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council.