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February is Pet Dental Health Month

February is Pet Dental Health Month

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has named February National Pet Dental Health Month.

Dental health is something that can often go overlooked in our pets, but is very important to their overall wellbeing. Just as gum disease is correlated with heart disease in humans, so it is that untreated gum disease can lead to heart and other complications in our beloved pets.

There is no substitution for getting regular checkups for your dog, cat, or rabbit with a qualified veterinarian. Other pets tend to only need veterinary attention when there is an issue. Veterinarians will examine your pet’s teeth at his/or exam and check for gum irritation, tartar, broken teeth, or other signs that dentistry may be required. You vet is your best advisor on your pet’s dental needs. A professional cleaning will involve anesthesia so that tartar and plaque can safely be removed from below you pet’s gumline. Often, x-rays are taken to ensure that there aren’t any issues in the teeth or jaw that can’t be seen externally.

That said, the single best way to reduce the need for professional dentistry is to take regular care of their teeth at home. Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth is very helpful in reducing the buildup of plaque and tartar and lessening the need for frequent dentistry. There are special toothpastes and toothbrushes made exclusively for dogs and cats that are safe, non-toxic, and designed for their mouths. You should NEVER use human toothpaste for your pet as it can contain chemicals that are toxic to them. Ideally, you should brush your cat or dog’s teeth every day, but the AVMA says that even three times per week can make a difference.

While toothbrushing is the best way to care for a dog or cat’s dental health, there are additional things that you can use to help keep their mouths and teeth clean. Dental rinses can help to lessen bacterial growth, and enzymatic treats can also help to do so. There are also water additives that can help with oral hygiene which can be particularly helpful with cats who may be very resistant to toothbrushing.

The foods and chews that you provide your pet can also have an impact on dental health. Providing high quality food tends to improve overall health which includes oral health. Giving dogs plenty of appropriate chews can help to remove some of the plaque from their teeth. Just be sure you know how tough of a chewer your dog is as some very hard chews can cause broken teeth in dogs with particularly strong jaws.

While dogs and cats are the most frequent pets to require dentistry, let’s not forget that our small animal friends have dental requirements as well. Many small animals, including hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, rats, mice, and others have continuously growing incisors for life. This means that it is absolutely essential that you provide them appropriate toys to chew on and wear down their teeth. If they don’t have a variety of things to chew, their teeth can become overgrown, eventually making it impossible for them to eat if they are not cut down to an appropriate length.

Need help finding supplies to help care for your pet’s oral health? Come into the store and ask one of our associates to show you some of the items that can help with dental health. And remember, get your pet’s teeth checked annually by your veterinarian.

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