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  • Writer's pictureTraci Wilkerson Steckel

National Pet Dental Health Month

Updated: Feb 15

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and although it is only one month to raise awareness for our pets' teeth, we should attempt to address their pearly whites year-round. 


If you have a small dog, as I do, you may have more dental problems. Usually, Yorkies, Dachshunds, and Chihuahuas tend to be some of the cutest dogs with the most problematic mouths that aren't so cute. When cats and dogs are about three years old, you will start seeing signs of periodontal disease. One of the most obvious will be my vet, whom I call "yuck mouth."


To get a little more detailed, our late Doxie Lexi used to have what we called "lake water mouth," and our adorable Emee has "fish-butt breath." Ha, Ha, Ha, yes, that's what we say to people when they go in for a kiss! Bad breath is a prevalent and noticeable sign that periodontal disease has settled in. Other signs may be drooling and yellow or brownish tartar build-up on the exterior of the teeth. More severe symptoms may be pawing at the mouth or sneezing if the tooth has abscessed and possibly perforated the cavity to the nose.

You must call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment with your pet for a proper and professional diagnosis.


We know the main issues of the "yuk-mouth" go far beyond the smell, but the primary health conditions that follow from the progression of the bacteria traveling like heart disease, which will ultimately be a shorter life with your pet. 


So, how can we prevent the issues mentioned above? Daily (haha), not in my home, and weekly brushings or wiping with a nice damp cloth when the brush won't go over well. If the teeth require more significant help, you may need to schedule a "dental" with your veterinarian to ensure that all tartar and bacteria are removed properly.

Great toys and treats that help with "cleaning" or chipping away at tarter or that may prevent tartar build-up. A few examples of treats are Dentastix and bones that you buy from the pet store. 


Many people ask me about the "non-anesthesia" teeth cleaning. Unfortunately, I've learned from more than one professional that the administrators do not get under the gums properly. An underlying infection that could cause more damage than benefit your pet might go unnoticed. This includes the kits you can buy online and use at home. Please save the professionals' pet dentals and keep the regular "brushings" and "wipings" for yourself. At one point, I read that some places have banned these cleanings, but you can always get advice from your veterinarian.



Here is a tip for finding the perfect toothbrush for your pet…if you can't see one, get a toothbrush for a human baby and trim the bristles. Ensure it is washed well to ensure there aren't any little bristle pieces left, and then you can use it as I did for our pets. I also recommend getting separate brushes for each pet. Like people, you can transfer germs, and they're inexpensive. 

But, if you have difficulty brushing your pet's teeth, many dog washes, groomers, and your vet can brush them for you if you can't bring yourself to do it. Many local groomers and dog washes give free teeth brushing or discounts in honor of this critical month; ask yours today, and you may be surprised to hear their specials. 

A great video on the importance of brushing your pet's teeth with some signs of tartar can be seen here by MonkeySee, and it was recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which also states that periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs even though it's completely preventable. Watch this video; it could be the first step in preventing your pet's periodontal disease!


Happy Brushing, and good luck!

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