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February is Pet Dental Health Month. The health and quality of your pet’s teeth may be low on your list of priorities, but you may be surprised how important it is. Good dental health helps prevent disease; not only of the mouth and teeth but also of the major systems of your pet’s body like the heart and kidneys. The key to your furry loved one’s total well-being just may be excellent dental care.

The team at Westarbor Animal Hospital wants to explain why National Pet Dental Health Month in February is something you should celebrate – and how great your pet will feel with proper oral care.

Pet Dental Health Month…Why All the Fuss?

Sure, you may take offense to your pet’s bad breath, but there are more important things to attend to, right? Sadly, most pet owners don’t think about the consequences of their pet’s poor dental health because it hasn’t always been something that was well understood.

As a matter of fact, for years the family Fido was given a bone to chew on to keep their teeth clean (and Fido probably lost a lot of teeth in the process). Now that we see our pets living longer lives (hooray), a big component of keeping your pet healthy longer is better dental care.

Yet, dental disease is still a problem. Most pets over 3 years of age have periodontal (dental) disease. Our goal is to educate pet owners to prevent this disease, and if not prevent, to effectively treat. So, what is periodontal disease and how does it affect our pets? Let’s explore.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is an oral infection or inflammation that occurs when buildup remains on the teeth and gums. A buildup of plaque and tartar encourages bacteria to thrive and deteriorate your pet’s teeth, as well as inflame the gums. You’ve likely heard in news and ads how harmful inflammation is for our bodies.

The problems that unfold include:

  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Inflammation
  • Bleeding
  • Bumps on mouth
  • Dental decay
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain
  • Abscesses
  • Infection

Untreated dental disease can hurt the internal organs when infection spreads. Poor dental health is linked to diseases of the heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys. This is why it is imperative to get your pet into a good dental care routine, including examinations and cleanings.

The Great News: Pet Dental Health Made Easier

While all of this information sounds scary, the thing to remember about National Pet Dental Health Month is that it reminds and empowers you to provide better care to that sweet smile. There are a few actions you can take as a loving pet parent to improve your pet’s teeth. These are:

  1. Make a dental appointment – Keep those regular wellness examinations that occur annually or biannually. This is where your pet will get a thorough inspection of their teeth and gums. Your veterinarian will provide recommendations for how to improve oral health. We can also cover information about dental cleanings, which we do here at our office. And we offer dental specials during Pet Dental Health Month.
  2. Use VOHC seal of approval dental treats – The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) analyzes dental chews and supplements for their effectiveness and safety. Look for their seal before purchasing any dental treats. Remember: dental chews can help, but do not replace brushing and wellness exams.
  3. Brush their teeth regularly – Toothbrushing is one of the absolute best ways you can keep dental disease at bay. Your pet may not be thrilled at first, but they become used to it.

Use a toothbrush and paste designed for your dog or cat (never use human toothpaste, as this is toxic to fur friends). Get your pet used to having their teeth brushed by focusing on the front teeth, then moving to the back when they are more comfortable. Better yet, call us for some pointers!

Can We Help?

If you have more questions about pet dental health and care, please call us. Let’s celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month together, for the well-being and vitality of your best friend.

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