Healthy Teeth - Healthy Pet

Feb 11, 2017

How do you like my pretty teeth?
Credit AftonRose [Flickr]

Dogs - especially certain breeds - have a natural smile, but all pets can benefit from having healthy teeth and gums.  It not only makes them look better, they feel better, too.  And that makes everybody smile!

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Have you been to the dentist lately? Many of us don’t like to go because we think it could be painful. But we go, because it helps us keep our teeth healthy.

Your pet needs healthy teeth, too. Unfortunately, veterinarians tell us that most dogs and cats begin to show signs of dental problems by the time they are three years old. Just as with people, plaque forms in a pet’s mouth when microscopic bits of food combine with bacteria and build deposits on the teeth. So your pet’s bad breath and discolored teeth are probably an indication of the start of periodontal disease. Your dog or cat could suffer some pain and even loss of teeth, but that’s not the worst part. Left untreated, oral infections could get into the animal’s system and eventually result in problems with one or more major organs.

The first step in taking care of your pet’s teeth is a veterinary dental exam. It may be necessary to have your dog or cat’s teeth cleaned much the same way your dentist cleans your teeth, by scraping away any plaque that has built up. For pets, that usually means general anesthesia because they aren’t likely to sit still and “open wide”.

Next, your vet will probably recommend a regular dental care routine which may include brushing your pet’s teeth. Make sure you use toothpaste specially designed for your pet, as human toothpaste could make your best friend sick. It’s easier if you start when the animal is young, but even older animals will tolerate having their teeth brushed if you go about it the right way. You can find a helpful video at Pets.WebMD.com which gives easy, step-by-step instructions. The American Veterinary Dental Collage has some great information about dental care for your pet on their website at AVDC.org.

February is Pet Dental Health Month, a good time to remember that good dental health can help our pets live a better life. And since they help make our lives better every day, that’s something we can all smile about, when we’re speaking of pets.

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