February is Pet Dental Health Month, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is encouraging families to practice preventative dental care with their pets.

Dental disease is one of the most common — and largely preventable — conditions vets see in pets. Left untreated, it can become life threatening, spreading bacteria to the heart, kidneys, joints and other portions of your pet’s body.

Many dental problems can be avoided with regular check ups and at-home care, such as tooth brushing, specially formulated diets, dental treats and chews and plaque-retardant products.

The following are some signs of dental disease that may indicate your pet is in need of veterinary care:

  • Red, swollen gums and brownish teeth
  • Bad breath (similar to the smell of a rotten egg)
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth
  • Reluctance to eat/decreased appetite
  • Increased drooling
  • Teeth that “chatter” (primarily in cats)
  • Reluctance to groom (primarily in cats)
  • Swelling and/or a draining wound below the eye (primarily in dogs)

Dental care resources