We usually think of celebrations in February that feature hearts, candy and flowers. Now you can add teeth to that list! Your pet’s teeth, that is. We celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month each February as a reminder to practice good oral hygiene with our pets every day. Not only can you save your dog or cat from the pain of a toothache or the unpleasantness of bad breath, but a healthy mouth also helps prevent more serious health issues later on.
Dental health problems are more common in pets than you might think. In fact, by the time they are 3 years old, most cats and dogs will suffer from some form of periodontal disease, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. As a result of this condition, your pet could experience tooth pain, difficulty eating or infections.
When left untreated, even minor dental issues can lead to other serious health complications. Bacteria from infections originating in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs in the body. Sometimes these infections cause heart, liver, or kidney disease that can become very serious.
The best way to deal with periodontal disease is to prevent it from getting started, with the help of good habits and regular checkups. We recommend daily brushing of your pet’s teeth for optimal health. When that frequency isn’t feasible, do it as often as you can and obviously – the more often the better.
A few simple tools and strategies can make it less of a chore. Start with a toothpaste that is made and flavored for dogs or cats – never the human variety, which contains components that shouldn’t be swallowed. You can spread it on a favorite toy or treat until they get used to the taste. A finger brush may be easier at the beginning. Once you both get used to the routine, you can graduate to a toothbrush that’s specially designed for dogs or cats. In addition to daily brushing, you can provide dental chews and toys meant for reducing tartar buildup.
Most importantly, be sure to schedule an annual check up with your vet to look for potential problems and discuss whether a professional cleaning is needed for your pet’s teeth. Discovering and treating periodontal disease early and preventing any issues from becoming more serious is key. Not only will you be caring for your pet’s dental health, you will also help protect their overall health.
Giving your pets the best chance at lifelong dental health and wellness is one of the best ways to show your love during National Pet Dental Health Month, this February and always! Call your vet today to book an appointment for a dental cleaning!