February 7, 2020
February is Pet Dental Health Month
Ever wish you could give your pup a breath mint? Yes, we hear you but that bad breath could signify more than just ingesting something stinky and putrid. It could mean a potential dental or oral disease which can pose a serious health risk.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month which may sometimes be overlooked by pet lovers. Just like us, pets need regular brushing and dental cleanings to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of oral or dental disease by age three. If left untreated, it can make your pet more susceptible to other health complications. For example, bacteria in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body and cause infection. Trouble begins when food particles and bacteria form plaque and tartar, which can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, in turn, leads to tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums, and tooth loss. Further complications arise when the bacteria that cause periodontal disease travel into a pet’s bloodstream, possibly resulting in damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs.
The signs of possible gum and dental issues include: bad breath; loose teeth or teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar; abnormal drooling, dropping food from the mouth or swallowing food whole; bleeding from the mouth; sensitivity in the mouth area; and loss of appetite or other changes in eating or chewing habits.
The good news is that preventative health care does not have to be complicated. While routine dental check-ups by your veterinarian is essential, dental hygiene can begin at home with teeth brushing. It is best to introduce brushing at a young age but it is never too late to start. Pet’s teeth should be brushed at least once a week. It may be a little rocky at first because this is strange to them but with positive reinforcement and patience you can make it a happy habit. To get your pet to accept the brushing, begin with gauze that is wrapped around your finger and use unsalted chicken or beef broth instead of a cleaning agent to make it interesting. After becoming accustomed to this method, switch to a finger brush or a soft toothbrush and use veterinarian-approved pet toothpaste. NEVER use human toothpaste which can cause stomach upset. Other tools in your dental hygiene kit could be special food and veterinarian-approved dental chews/bones which can help keep teeth white and free of disease.
Even if you do care for your pet’s teeth regularly, remember just like humans, pets need regular dental check-ups and cleanings. Proper dental hygiene can help your pet live a longer and healthier life….so keep smiling and start brushing!