It’s Pet Dental Health month, the ideal time to focus on the important role that dental hygiene plays in your pet’s health. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, bacteria can enter your pet’s bloodstream from their teeth and mouth, leading to potential infections of your pet’s heart, lung, kidneys, liver, and nervous system.
Schedule an Exam
Periodontal disease is one the most prevalent diseases in companion animals today. However, a 2011 National Pet Owners survey found that only 14% of dogs and 9% of cats receive dental care at the veterinarian’s office. Early treatment, regular dental examinations and cleanings, and a home care regimen are key to maintaining your pet’s health and longevity.
An annual dental examination is the best way to identify issues before they have a serious impact on your pet’s health. Your veterinarian will observe your pet’s face, their gums, cheeks, palate, and bite patterns to isolate dental health concerns and recommend cleaning and/or treatment.
Know the Signs
Between dental examinations and cleanings, the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) recommends that you watch for the following signs of oral and dental disease.
o Bad Breath
o Loose teeth
o Discolored or tartar-covered teeth
o Excessive drooling
o Dropping food from their mouth
o Bleeding from the mouth
o Loss of appetite or weight loss
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important that you seek veterinary care right away.
Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth is the most important thing you can do to care for your pet’s teeth at home. It’s important to start this routine early to help your pet adjust to this new habit. While daily brushing is ideal, the key is to set a regular schedule of brushing several times each week and stick to it.
To get your pet comfortable with having their teeth brushed, begin by spending a few minutes each day rubbing their mouth or gums with your finger. As they become used to that, introduce them to the taste of their toothpaste. Gently massage your pet’s gums using a piece of gauze, a finger brush, or a special pet toothbrush. Finally, as they become comfortable with having your fingers in their mouth, begin the brushing process with toothpaste, using a small circular motion to loosen tartar and eliminate food particles. If you’re looking for step-by-step instructions on how to brush your pet’s teeth, check out this video by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Steer clear of human toothpaste and toothbrushes. Human toothpastes have harmful detergents and abrasives that can be harmful if swallowed or inhaled by your dog or cat. There are a variety of specialty pet toothpastes to choose from with specialty flavors designed to appeal to their senses.
In honor of Pet Dental Health month, AZPetVet is offering a $50.00 discount off your pet’s dental treatment visit throughout the month of February. With 17 Valley locations open seven days a week, it’s easy to find an appointment time that fits your busy schedule. Visit our website to find the office closest to you and to schedule your pet’s dental health exam.