Pet Dental Health Month – prevent dental disease with a regular check up

Pet Dental Health Month

It’s time to take Fluffy to the Vet for a dental check-up. Photo: SKABARCAT/

As part of the Australian Veterinary Association’s (AVA) Pet Dental Health Month in August, pet owners are being urged to speak to their vet about preventive dental care and thorough yearly dental examinations.

Dental disease is commonly diagnosed in Australian pets and if left untreated, it can lead to serious health concerns including infection of the liver, kidney and heart.

Dr Tara Cashman, spokesperson for the AVA’s Australian Veterinary Dental Society, said that yearly thorough dental exams performed by a veterinarian play an important role in a pet’s preventive dental care routine and help to identify any emerging issues.

“During a pet’s annual health check-up, vets will do what they can to examine an animal’s general dental health in the consult room. But this is quite limiting in terms of what we can detect because an animal will often be anxious or excitable and simply won’t sit still while we probe around their mouth. Also, when a conscious animal opens its mouth, only some parts of the gum and teeth are actually visible.

“This is why veterinarians often recommend investigating further, when the animal is anaesthetised. This allows for an investigation of every single tooth, above and below the gum line, and it may also include dental x-rays if necessary,” Dr Cashman said.

In its early stages, periodontal disease is reversible. However, if it’s left undetected, it can impact heavily on a pet’s quality of life. Also, the longer it’s left untreated, the more painful it is for a pet.

“Dental disease is one of those issues that we need to identify and treat early, which is why a yearly thorough dental examination is an important part of good pet dental care,” Dr Cashman said.

Know the signs of dental disease

While not all pets with oral health issues display obvious clinical signs of dental disease, some pet owners may notice the following:

  • bad breath
  • swollen or easily bleeding gums
  • reluctance to eat harder foods
  • drooling.

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