"How goes the mouth, so goes the health," said Dr. Bert Dodd, clinical professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
"Overall health can be affected by oral disease, which can get into the blood stream and affect the animal's internal organs and joints."
Dental disease affects a significant number of pets at any age during their lifetime, and just like with people, there can be serious consequences as a result of poor dental health.
Although pets aren't typically known to have minty-fresh breath, an extremely foul odor can be the first sign of a severe dental problem.
"Often, exceptionally bad breath is the first indicator of oral disease," said Dr. Dodd
"It generally is not a good idea to give your dogs any antlers or calf hooves, and don't let them chew on rocks or bones, as these can potentially cause harm to the gums and teeth," said Dr. Dodd
"You should be brushing their teeth regularly, using water additives, and providing them with safe chew toys" said Dr. Dodd
To play it safe, ask your vet to recommend toxin-free rawhide, nylon and rubber chew toys.
Another important step in caring for your pet's dental health is to have your vet perform a complete cleaning and examination on an annual basis.
"Oral examinations and cleaning should be performed on your pet at the very least once a year," said Dr. Dodd