AVMA Reminds Pet Owners During Pet Dental Health Month That Pets Suffer With Dental Health Problems, Too
Most people don't understand the serious consequences of poor pet dental. That's why the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is using this month to emphasize the importance of pet dental health. February is Pet Dental Health Month.
"Dental health is very important for the overall health of our companion animals, and that's why we are a sponsor of Pet Dental Health Month," explains Dr. Gregory S. Hammer, president of the AVMA. "Many pet owners simply don't appreciate the importance of maintaining good dental health practices. As a result, dental disease is very common among companion animals. Pet Dental Health Month emphasizes working together with your veterinarian to establish an appropriate dental health regimen for your pet."
The American Veterinary Dental Society estimates that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three.
There are a number of symptoms to look for to determine if your animal is suffering with dental disease:
- Bad breath-it's not unusual for a dog to have breath that's unpleasant, but if it becomes putrid, this is a strong sign of dental disease.
- Tartar build up-just like in people, a dog or cat's teeth should be white and free of tartar.
- Swollen, receding, or bleeding gums.
- Fractured teeth-bad oral hygiene can lead to cavities, which can be very painful.
- Change in eating habits-sometimes an animal's dental disease can become so uncomfortable that pets will avoid certain foods.
Prevention is the best cure for dental disease in animals, and that includes annual visits to your veterinarian to have your pet's teeth examined. Dogs and cats should also have their teeth brushed on a regular basis, and special foods, along with dental chews, rawhide, dental bones and other healthy products that pets consider "treats," can help keep teeth white and free of disease.
In order to train your dog or cat to tolerate regular tooth brushing, start by massaging the animal's gums with an appropriate pet tooth paste. Poultry-flavored toothpaste is very popular, and most animals love the taste. Toothpaste made for humans can make a pet sick. Once the animal starts accepting or even looking forward to this new ritual, introduce a toothbrush and clean the exterior of the animal's teeth.
If your pet already has signs of periodontal disease, a professional cleaning is in order. Talk to your veterinarian for more information on a dental health treatment and program for your pet.
American Veterinary Medical Association
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