Why is oral and dental health in animals important?

Oral and dental diseases are one of the most common problems in small animal veterinary practice, and all cause pain to the animals.

The problem of un-treated, under-treated or poorly treated oral and dental diseases was recently recognized by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) as posing a significant animal welfare concern. The five central tenets of animal welfare (the Five Freedoms) are that animals should be cared for in ways that minimize stress, fear, suffering and pain, as well as be free to express natural behaviours.

Un-treated, under-treated or poorly treated oral and dental diseases will therefore impact animal welfare – primarily as the animals will be left suffering in pain. Although animals will rarely express pain and show fewer behaviours one can directly link to oral pain and infection compared to humans, animals likely experience pain similar to humans. Animals have the same pain perception mechanisms as humans (on the anatomical, histological and also molecular levels).

We can safely assume – if it is painful to us, humans, it is also painful to the animals.

Early detection and consistent therapy are therefore critical to provide animals comfort and health.

If you are interested to learn more about WSAVA endeavours for the best possible veterinary dental care of animals, the Dental Standardization Project Committee created Global Dental Guidelines Document »to provide veterinarians worldwide with the information required to understand best practices for dental therapy and create realistic minimum standards of care«.

If you have noted any problems with your animal, please consult your veterinarian.