Does your Fido or Fifi have bad breath? Don’t ignore it but pay attention. That odor might signify a serious health risk, with the potential to damage not only your pet’s teeth and gums but its internal organs as well.

Your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of problems and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. Have your dog’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems: bad breath, broken or loose teeth, extra teeth or retained baby teeth, teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar, abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth, reduced appetite or refusal to eat, and pain or swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth.

What can you do at home to help with dental health?

Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings. This may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible and brushing several times a week can be effective. Most dogs accept brushing but patience and training are important.

There are many pet products marketed with claims that they improve dental health, but not all of them are effective. Talk with your veterinarian about any dental products, treats, or dental-specific diets you’re considering for your pet, or ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.

Remember

While February is National Pet Dental Health Month, dental health should be a daily ritual for pet owners all year long.