Cats and Dogs Need Dentists, Too

Pet Campaign Stresses Importance of Routine Care

There is a price to pay for overlooking a pet’s dental health—and it’s more than the high cost of a dental cleaning. Your pet’s mouth can be the gateway to more serious health issues: excessive tartar, tooth decay, periodontal disease and oral abscesses can lead to other major medical conditions involving the heart, liver and kidneys.

In a collaborative effort to encourage pet dental health awareness, Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) is teaming with Iams to promote Healthy Teeth for Pets. Iams’ dental campaign targets pet owners by distributing of thousands of dental health kits to select veterinary hospitals and select retail stores such as Super Pets. Customers who purchase Iams Dental Defense food will be provided a dental kit while supplies last. Kits will contain a teeth cleaning tracking chart, a dental cleaning and nutritional booklet, coupons for discounts on pet food products, a special discount offer from VPI, and a finger brush.

Prevent Pet Dental Disease

The American Veterinary Dental Society recently estimated 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral and dental disease by age 3. With daily brushing, regular dental exams and a diet that promotes dental health, pet owners can help pave the way to good overall wellbeing for their pets.

Dog has teeth brushed

Routine dental care can result in improved overall health and longevity of a pet by preventing or aiding in early detection of dental disease.

“Most people brush regularly and take care of their teeth because they know dental conditions can be painful and costly,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Ideally, this mindset should translate to how people care for their pets’ teeth. Pets are usually only brought to the veterinarian for dental problems once an infection is evident or when the pet’s mouth pain is noticeably affecting his or her ability to chew or play with toys.”


"Pets are usually only brought to the veterinarian for dental problems once an infection is evident."

Dental Danger for Pets

Pets’ mouths are biologically similar to humans. Their teeth are susceptible to plaque and tartar build-up and bacterial infections. A significant bacterial infection growing under the gums can damage the structural tissues (gum and bone) that hold teeth in place. This is called periodontal disease, and the pet should receive the appropriate treatment from a veterinarian. If a tooth has been cracked or chipped, bacteria may migrate deeper into the surrounding tissues and cause inflammation or an abscess. In some cases, abscessed teeth require extraction.

To prevent serious health problems, pet owners should have their pets’ oral and dental health evaluated by a veterinarian regularly. The most effective preventive treatment for dental disease is a professional teeth cleaning. Only with a professional cleaning is a veterinarian able to fully assess an animal’s dental health, take X-rays as needed, scale bacteria and tartar off of tooth surfaces as well as from under the gum line, polish and perform more advanced procedures if necessary.

Pet Dental Awareness

VPI tracked claims data from its more than 466,000 pets insured nationwide and found that combined claims for dental conditions were the 11th most common type of claim received in 2008. The provider’s CareGuardSM Premier coverage rider is designed to help pet owners pay for annual routine care procedures, including a $100 reimbursement for a dental cleaning.

Visit VPI to learn more about dental reimbursements; Iams’ Healthy Teeth for Pets Web site also offers educational videos and pamphlets discussing the importance of preventive dental health for pets.

Pet owners can take advantage of dental cleaning specials offered by veterinary clinics during February’s Pet Dental Awareness Month and make pets’ mouths healthy and bright.

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