February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Have you noticed that your pet's breath, well.. smells really bad? Have you noticed that your pets eating
habits seem painful or is eating and chewing slowly? Have you noticed blood on your pets toys or
chews? Has your pet lost teeth? These could be a symptom of dental problems or other serious health
issues. Did you know that more than 85 percent of cats and dogs over four years of age are affected by
periodontal disease? Painful toothache, gingivitis and periodontal disease have mercy on no one, man
or beast. Combining good dental hygiene at home with preventive veterinary dental care can help keep
your pet healthy, pain free and save you money in the long run. An untreated dental infection is not
only painful, but can result in tooth loss and spread infection to the heart, kidneys and other organs, and
suddenly become life threatening.
Here's a guide to help you keep your pet's teeth and gums happy and healthy.

1. Brush Your Pet's Teeth

While it might seem difficult at first, with enough patience and plenty of healthy yummy rewards, you
can turn tooth brushing into a bonding experience with your dog or cat. It's never too early to start
familiarizing your pet with the tooth brushing routine. Be sure to only use toothpaste designed for pets
because human toothpaste has too much fluoride and can be toxic to pets. If you are worried that your
pet may bite you during tooth brushing or if your pet simply won't tolerate the toothbrush, ask your
local Veterinarian for alternative home dental care options.
Start by rubbing your pet's teeth with your finger and some tasty pet enzymatic toothpaste. This will
familiarize your pet with the brushing process and help your pet to learn to accept and even enjoy tooth
Work your way up to a pet toothbrush. Specially designed cat and dog toothbrushes, as well as
toothpastes. A finger brush is a great choice after teaching your pet to enjoy a gum massage. You may
also want to try a regular pet toothbrush and then determine what seems to work best for you and your
pet. Focus on the gum line. The line where the teeth meet the gums is the most critical area to scrub.

2. Consider Dental Toys, Healthy Treats and Food
While not as effective as brushing your pet's teeth, giving your pet healthy treats, food and toys
specifically designed to promote oral health will help to maintain healthy gums and teeth by minimizing
the development and progression of plaque, tartar and gingivitis. There are also excellent prescription
dental care diets for both dogs and cats that can be used as treats or meals. Again, check with your local
Veterinarian for advice.

3. Take Your Pet To Your Vet

Pets are like people and need routine dental examinations, cleanings and care. Ask your Veterinarian to
perform an initial screening dental exam as a part of your pet’s comprehensive physical examination.
He or she will talk with you about past and current medical history including any problems you may have
noticed or have concerns about your pets health. Be sure to mention if you've noticed any dental
health warning signs such as bad breath, oral pain, bleeding, drooling, and changes in eating habits or
lost teeth. During the examination, your Vet will check out your pet's mouth, teeth and gums for
bleeding and inflammation, tooth loss, loose, cracked or damaged teeth, exposed tooth roots, plaque
and tartar as well as oral foreign bodies and potentially cancerous lumps. This exam can usually be
performed without sedation, unless your pet becomes aggressive or the mouth or teeth are very painful.
If your Vet feels that a dental cleaning or other dental procedure is needed, be sure to follow through on
their recommendations for dental care. If a dental cleaning is not needed, be sure to spend some of the
appointment time discussing good home dental care that will help to keep your pet's teeth and mouth
healthy and pain free. While February is National Pet Dental Health Month, dental health should be a
daily ritual for pet owners all year long.

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