Pet Periodontitis

Toothaches, Bad Breath are Not Reserved For Humans Alone

Labrador retriever

It creeps in slowly and unseen. What starts out as all-familiar, sweet puppy breath evolves into something smelly and foul. It’s not just bad breath your pet is puffing all over you.

It’s gum disease.

Pets Benefit From Dental Checkups

It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of pets in the U.S. experience gum disease by age three. If left untreated, abscesses and plaque buildup can turn into a costly visit to the veterinarian. In fact, in 2013, Veterinary Pet Insurance policyholders filed more than $4.7 million in claims for pet periodontitis.

While February is National Pet Dental Month, anytime is a good time to schedule a routine exam and ask all those questions about grooming and food choices for your pet. Vets also will often promote teeth cleaning procedures in February to encourage pet owners to make that appointment.

More Than Just A Toothache

Periodontal disease (also called gum disease) is the primary cause of tooth loss in pets. It’s caused by the buildup of food, plaque, and tartar in the spaces between the gum and the lower part of the tooth. Often, the accumulation leads to infection and inflammation and if left untreated, pets can lose the affected teeth.

Pet owners can spare themselves the tremendous costs of dental surgery, if they take a few preventative measures at home.


Studies have shown that with regular brushing, incidents of periodontal disease can be reduced significantly.

Open Wide!

Dental diagram of dog's tooth

Groomers and vets alike recommend a regular tooth brushing for all of your four-legged family members. Studies have shown that with regular brushing, incidents of periodontal disease can be reduced significantly. The earlier you begin a dental routine in your pet’s life, the easier the ritual will become over time.

Ask a professional for tips and the right tools. Do some research online or ask your vet for help in how to best clean your pet’s teeth at home.

You will need a few essential things before you get started:

  • Thimble-style dental scrubber or pet toothbrush.
  • Pet toothpaste (toothpaste for humans is harmful to pets as it contains artificial sweeteners which are toxic to dogs and cats).
  • Old towels (wrap your cat securely to prevent scratching).
  • Patience and time.

Prevent Dental Disease

Experts recommend a diet of crunchy food for both dogs and cats to prevent the formation of plaque and gum disease.

Ask your veterinarian about the proper types of food recommended for your pet’s dental health. Dogs, with supervision, can benefit from chewy-style treats and toys such as Nylabones and Kongs that help clean food buildup and plaque from their teeth.

Promote a healthy mouth for your pet and avoid costly treatments that both you and your pet will suffer through. Oral treatments are rising: Veterinary Pet Insurance policyholders filed more than $10.2 million in dental claims in 2013.


Want to read more about pets and dental care? Learn more about canine oral melanoma and the benefits of routine pet dental care.


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