It’s an alarming statistic: By the time they have reached their third birthday, nearly three in four cats have some degree of gum disease. This threatens the stability of their teeth and can be the gateway to several other serious health problems as well. Many people who otherwise take excellent care of their dog or cat often don’t understand the importance of caring for their teeth and gums as well.

Regular oral health check-ups and cleaning at home can have a significant impact on your pet’s quality of life. During National Pet Dental Health Month, we urge you to consider the importance of oral healthcare for your pet.

How to Prevent Gum Disease in Dogs and Cats
The foundation of excellent oral health starts with eating nutritious food. Before you buy pet food, be sure that it has an adequate amount of meat, vegetables, protein, animal fat, and moisture. Avoid buying food for your dog or cat that has a lot of artificial fillers, starches, or grains. The first provides no nutritional value while dogs and cats don’t require starches or grains due to being natural carnivores. Additionally, limit treats and avoid feeding your pet any human food.

Some dog owners give them a dental chew every day and avoid brushing their teeth. While dental chews can reduce plaque and tartar, you shouldn’t use them as a substitute for brushing. If you didn’t start a daily oral care routine when you first got your pet, it’s not too late. Your dog or cat can learn to accept toothbrushing when you’re consistent about it and offer a lot of praise for cooperation.

Make sure that you select a toothbrush made for your pet’s species and mouth size before you brush his teeth for the first time. Click here to see a video on how to brush a dog’s teeth and here for how to brush a cat’s teeth.

When to Call the Veterinarian
Many people complain that their dog or cat has bad breath without realizing this could indicate a serious oral health issue. Excess drooling, bleeding gums, staining on the teeth, and reluctance to eat are other common symptoms that you should have investigated right away.

Buffalo Trace Veterinary Service offers regular exams and cleaning in addition to diagnosis and treatment of gum disease and other oral health concerns. In honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, we’re offering 10 percent off any dental service in February and March. Please contact us to schedule your pet’s appointment today.

Image Credit:  Sari Juurinen | Getty Images