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Your Pet's Dental Health - Say "AHHHHHH!"

Over the past year you might have noticed a trend in our pet health blogs. Quite often we’ll start with, “Just as fill in the blank health is important to humans, so it is with your pet.” Nothing can be truer than with your pet’s dental health. Did you know that poor dental health can cause heart disease, putting your pet’s life at risk when they need to be anesthetized for proper dental cleaning and care? While this is among the worst-case scenarios, it is a scenario that can be avoided by regular home care and annual veterinary visits. For National Pet Dental Month and Responsible Pet Owner’s Month, we’re focusing on the things you can do to help prevent dental disease, giving your pet a happier and healthier mouth. Say “Ahhhhhhhhh!”

Dental disease can start as early as three years of age in cats and dogs, so it is crucial you adapt your pet early to in-home dental care. Untreated dental disease can cause pain, infection, inflammation, and loss of teeth, while bacteria in the mouth left untreated can affect internal organs. Additionally, for animals with diabetes, it can complicate “the control and regulation” of the disease. And since we know animals are pros at hiding pain, it is in their best interest that all possible preventative measures be taken.

How You Can Help

  • Take your pet in for annual health visits. During your pet’s annual visit, your vet will check their mouth for inflamed gums, tartar, or any other sign of dental problems. Be sure to tell your vet if your pet has had continuous bad breath, signs of eating less, or signs of an aggravated mouth (unusual chewing or pawing at their mouth).

  • Brush your pet’s teeth or use alternatives. Having your pet feel secure with a tooth brush should start at the earliest age possible. You can find instructions on how to brush your pet’s teeth here. Remember: Only use toothpaste specifically designed for animals. Human toothpaste is toxic to them. Dental wipes and specially designed foods are alternatives to brushing, in the hardest cases. Check out this link for alternative details.

  • Chew toys, not bones for dogs. While it is tempting to give a dog a bone, they are unsafe for their digestion and can also cause chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. If you can't bend it or dissolve it, don’t give it to your dog. There are many rubbery chew toys that help alleviate boredom as well as aid in reducing tooth plaque and tartar. Find out about chew toys here.

  • Provide proper professional cleanings. To properly clean your pet’s teeth, they must be anesthetized, and x-rays will be taken. Cleaning while under anesthesia allows for a stress-free experience as the trained medical professional deep cleans under the gums, removes plaque, tartar, and bacteria.

While dental care can seem expensive, preventative measures are less costly than curative. Ultimately, your pet’s health will benefit, and so will your pocketbook. Oh, and don’t forget, February being National Pet Dental Health Month, most vets have discounted rates for dental exams and cleaning during the month. Be sure to contact your local vets for this month’s special rates. So, take your fur baby in and get those pearly whites checked out! You’ll both be glad that you did.

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