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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Has Your Pet Had a Dental Check-Up Lately?


A pet’s oral health often gives an indication of her overall wellness, yet many people overlook the importance of a brushing and regular dental exams. Because of this, approximately three-quarters of dogs and cats have some form of dental disease before the age of three. The American Veterinary Medical Association declared that February is National Pet Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of healthy teeth and gums for pets.

How You Can Prevent Your Pet from Becoming Part of the Statistic
The most important thing you can do to promote excellent oral health in your pet is to feed him a nutritious diet. This starts with the food you purchase. Be sure to take your time reading pet foods labels to ensure that your dog or cat receives enough meat, protein, animal fat, moisture, and vegetables. Since dogs and cats are natural carnivores, they don’t need to consume grain or starches. It’s also important to give treats in moderation and reduce the temptation to feed table scraps to your pet.

Dental chews can help reduce tartar and plaque in dogs, but they still need to have their teeth brushed regularly. It’s best to start this routine when your pet is a puppy or kitten, but she can learn to accept it as part of the normal routine with plenty of persistence and praise from you. Be sure to choose a toothbrush that is appropriate for your pet’s size and species before you start a dental care routine.

If you think your pet will be reluctant, let her sniff the toothbrush before placing it in her mouth for a few seconds. The next day, add a small amount of toothpaste to the brush and briefly run it over one tooth. As you gradually add the number of teeth you clean each day, your pet may even start looking forward to it. Try to avoid punishment and instead praise your pet’s cooperative efforts, not matter how small.

We also encourage you to schedule a dental exam at Minnesota Veterinary Hospital every year. You can choose to bring your pet in just for an exam and cleaning or request that we include it with his regular check-up.

Recognizing Dental Health Problems
Complaints of their pet having bad breath is common among pet owners. If your pet has this problem, it’s important for him to have an oral exam as it could indicate gum disease or another oral health issue. Drooling more than usual, refusal to eat, stained teeth, and bleeding gums are other common dental health issues in pets. We will develop a treatment plan right away for any oral health problem that we diagnose.

If you have never considered the importance of oral hygiene for dogs and cats, National Pet Dental Health Month is the perfect time to start a routine at home. Just don’t forget to follow it up with an annual professional cleaning and exam.