Dental health is an important aspect of our pets’ health care, particularly for diabetics. February is Dental Month in the veterinary world. Many clinics will offer 5 percent off of their dental prophylaxis prices. I’ve long suspected that this is because people have overspent during the holidays and are afraid of what they owe the tax man in April! People tend to be broke in February which results slow business at many vet clinics. Some veterinary genius thought up the idea of doing more dentals when we may be less than swamped with appointments. Voila! We have Dental Month.

If you regularly receive our newsletters, you may grow weary of me harping about good dental hygiene for diabetics. Nonetheless, the ugly truth is that periodontal disease is a significant cause of insulin resistance. Insulin doses can go down as much as 25% after a dental cleaning and antibiotics for a pet with gingivitis and oral infection. Additionally, oral pain can affect how much our pets eat. Consistency of a diabetic pet’s routine is a key to good diabetes regulation. This includes injection schedule and the amount of food eaten. A pet who goes off chow due to a bad tooth may result in a low blood glucose if the insulin dose goes unchanged.

I encourage clients to brush their pets’ teeth and use chew toys and treats. I especially like Greenies and CET chews. Even so, it may not be enough. Once a pet reaches middle age, they often need an annual dental cleaning by their veterinarian. Think of it this way: Most of us brush our teeth after every meal and hopefully floss daily. Despite our efforts we still go to the dental hygienist every 6 months. Let’s use that same mindset for our beloved pets. Ask your veterinarian to assess if your pet needs a dental cleaning. If so, your veterinarian can get to those hard to reach nooks and crannies of your pet’s mouth.

I often lament that we can’t get our little rascals to brush and floss their own teeth. Many clients feel guilty when they haven’t had their pet’s teeth cleaned. They can smell the bad breath that accompanies gingivitis and tartar accumulation. They know they need to act, and yet economic times are rough. Dental care should not be put off until it is a dire emergency! I personally think every month should be dental month, but February is a great time to ease your conscience. Take advantage of cost savings of Dental Month!

NOTE: Consult your veterinarian to confirm that my recommendations are applicable for the health needs of your pet.