By Mary Guiden

A clean mouth can add years to a pet’s life, though it’s something pet parents don’t always consider, often due to the need for additional education.

By three years of age, most dogs and cats have some level of periodontal disease, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. Not always apparent to pet owners, periodontal disease can cause oral pain, infection, inflammation and other health problems, decreasing the quality of life for these pets. After a proper dental procedure, many pet owners report the emergence of a “whole new pet” – one who is happier and more active.

Like human health, dental problems don’t just impact pets’ teeth and gums. They can have a long-term impact on their hearts, kidneys and other major organs, according to experts at AmeriVet Veterinary Partners.

February is a perfect time to remind pet parents that furry friends can’t carry a toothbrush around for daily cleaning. Dr. Brian Hurley, DVM, and national medical director with AmeriVet Veterinary Partners, shared a few tips that veterinarians can use to prep their practices for National Pet Dental Health Month:

  • Education first – Educate pet parents about the importance of maintaining good oral health.
  • Empower owners to take action – Recommend and remind pet owners to regularly brush their pet’s teeth as it is the most
    effective thing that they can do to keep them healthy.
  • Offer free oral examinations in February – Clinics should offer and promote free oral examinations by their technicians during
    February to identify possible dental diseases. Further educating pet parents is a great way to kick off an annual dental care
  • Offer a discount for complete dental treatment for the month of February or year-round if booked the day of appointment.
    Hurley said that a discount up to 10% is most common.
  • Provide free home kits with every dental procedure.
  • Offer a discount on preanesthetic blood work for dental procedures.
  • Provide clients with a free recheck six months post-dental to assess visual signs of returning periodontal disease.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has additional resources for pet parents:

The Veterinary Health Oral Council also has information on how periodontal disease develops. The council also has a list of approved dental products for dogs and cats to share with pet parents. The council recognizes products that meet pre-set standards to delay the accumulation of plaque and calculus, or tartar, on pets’ teeth. Products are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance following review of data from trials conducted according to VOHC protocols.