Many pet owners may not realize just how important it is that they take care of their pet’s teeth.

As February is recognized as pet dental month, the staff at McPherson Veterinary Clinic, located at 723 N. Hickory St. in McPherson, want pet owners to know just how crucial dental health is to a pet’s overall health.

“There are underlying conditions that can cause infections throughout the body through the mouth. It’s just like us as humans— we like to keep a clean mouth and keep it healthy. That also translates to animals,” said practice manager Taryn Burgan.

To keep your pet’s mouth healthy, a good rule of thumb to follow is to take them to the vet once a year for an oral exam.

“You can come in and we can take a look at your dog’s teeth and we’ll be honest with you if your dog needs a cleaning or not,” Burgan added.

Staff take extra care when completing an oral exam, as problems can be lingering below the surface.

“We’ll do a full exam and we have tools that allow us to look underneath the gum line a little bit to see if there’s an infection. A big indicator would be a large amount of plaque and tartar on the teeth as well as a foul smell. If your dog has a really strong odor, that is a good indicator that there is probably an infection going on in their mouth,” Burgan noted.

To prevent plaque and infections in your pet’s mouth, there are somethings to try at home before going to the vet’s office.

Burgan said that chew toys and bones that help with bad breath and plaque actually do work. However, she also noted that those treats will only prolong deeper issues.

“Those bones won’t help with issues under the gum line. However, they will help with plaque so if you use those bones, you would maybe only have to clean their teeth every other year,” she said.

To stay on top of plaque and infections, owners can brush their pet’s teeth at home.

“You can go buy a doggie tooth brush and doggie toothpaste. We have them here at the clinic as well. Owners don’t necessarily need a special toothbrush — a kid’s tooth brush with soft bristles will work just fine. I wouldn’t recommend any adult or kids toothpaste but stick to dog toothpaste,” Burgan added.

If you are a cat owner, cleaning your cat’s teeth is just as important as well.

“Cats carry a lot of infection in their mouth and need a yearly exam too,” Burgan noted.

For more information on pet dental, call the clinic at 620-241-1577 or visit their website at 

Contact Brooke Haas by email at or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.