February is National Pet Dental Health Month!!

posted: by: Leigh Anne Robertson, DVM Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Have you noticed that your pet's breath, well..smells really bad?  Have you noticed that your pet seems painful or is eating and chewing slowly?  Have you noticed blood on your pets toys or chews?  Has your pet lost teeth?  These could be a symptom of dental problems or other serious health issues.   Did you know that more than 85 percent of cats and dogs over four years of age are affected by periodontal disease?  Painful toothache, gingivitis and periodontal disease have mercy on no one, man or beast.  Combining good dental hygiene at home with preventive veterinary dental care can help keep your pet healthy, pain free and save you money in the long run.  An untreated dental infection is not only painful, but can result in tooth loss and spread infection to the heart, kidneys and other organs, and suddenly become life threatening.

Here's a guide to help you keep your pet's teeth and gums happy and healthy.

1. Brush Your Pet's Teeth
While it might seem difficult at first, with enough patience and plenty of yummy rewards, you can turn tooth brushing into a bonding experience with your dog or cat.  It's never too early to start familiarizing your pet with the toothbrushing routine.  Be sure to only use toothpaste designed for pets because human toothpaste has too much fluoride and can be toxic to pets.  If you are worried that your pet may bite you during tooth brushing or if your pet simply won't tolerate the toothbrush, ask Dr. Robertson for alternative home dental care options.
  • Start by rubbing your pet's teeth with your finger and some tasty pet enzymatic toothpaste.  This will familiarize your pet with the brushing process and help your pet to learn to accept and even enjoy tooth brushing.
  • Work your way up to a pet toothbrush. Specially designed cat and dog toothbrushes, as well as toothpastes, are available here at Lantana Animal Hospital and pet stores too.  A finger brush is a great choice after teaching your pet to enjoy a gum massage.  You may also want to try a regular pet toothbrush and then determine what seems to work best for you and your pet.
  • Focus on the gum line. The line where the teeth meet the gums is the most critical area to scrub.
2. Consider Dental Toys, Treats and Food
While not as effective as brushing your pet's teeth, giving your pet treats, food and toys specifically designed to promote oral health will help to maintain healthy gums and teeth by minimizing the development and progression of plaque, tartar and gingivitis.  CET Hextra Chews are one of the most effective choices for both dogs and cats, especially when combined with CET Oral Hygiene Rinse.  There are also excellent prescription dental care diets for both dogs and cats that can be used as treats or meals.  Dr. Robertson can discuss these fun and tasty home dental care options and help you choose effective options that best suit your pet's individual needs.  

3. Take Your Pet To Your Vet
Pets are like people and need routine dental examinations, cleanings and care.   Dr. Robertson will perform the initial screening dental exam along as a part of the comprehensive physical examination.  She will talk with you about past and current medical history including any problems you may have noticed or concerns you may have about your pet'™s health.   Be sure to tell Dr. Robertson if you have noticed any then ask if you've noticed any dental health warning signs such as bad breath, oral pain, bleeding, drooling, and changes in eating habits or lost teeth.   During the examination, she will check out your pet's mouth, teeth and gums for bleeding and inflammation, tooth loss, loose, cracked or damaged teeth, exposed tooth roots, plaque and tartar as well as oral foreign bodies and potentially cancerous lumps.  This exam can usually be performed without sedation, unless your pet becomes aggressive or the mouth or teeth are very painful.  If Dr. Robertson feels that a dental cleaning or other dental procedure is needed, be sure to follow through on her recommendations for dental care.  If a dental cleaning is not needed, be sure to spend some of the appointment time discussing good at home dental care that will help to keep your pet's teeth and mouth healthy and pain free.  While February is National Pet Dental Health Month, dental health should be a daily ritual for pet owners all year long.