February is National Pet Dental Health Month

National Pet Dental Health Month
 
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) started National Pet Dental Health Month several years ago as an initiative for pet owners to follow an at-home oral healthcare routine. It also hoped to underscore the importance of bringing companion animals to the veterinarian for a regular check-up and professional cleaning. 
 
The AMVA started this awareness campaign in response to the startling statistic that up to 80 percent of cats and dogs have at least a mild form of gum disease by age three. This causes bacteria to attack the gum tissue and can lead to tooth loss, infection, and numerous other serious health conditions. Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, starts when food debris and bacteria build up on tooth surfaces and eventually get underneath the gum tissues. If bacteria reach the bloodstream, it can cause problems with your pet’s kidneys, liver, or heart.
 
Most Common Signs of Periodontal Disease in Cats and Dogs
Persistent bad breath is one of the first signs that your pet could have an oral healthcare issue. Although this problem is extremely common, many pet owners don’t realize they should have their pet evaluated by a veterinarian because of it. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment at Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic if you notice loose or discolored teeth, reluctance to eat, difficulty chewing, or excess drooling.
 
You’re in good company if Dr. Palmquist diagnoses periodontal disease in your pet. According to the AVMA, it’s the most frequently diagnosed health condition among cats and dogs. He will work with you to find solutions for reversing your pet’s gum disease, such as daily toothbrushing, feeding your pet nutritious food, and returning to one of our clinics for regular follow-up appointments.
 
The Importance of a Consistent Oral Healthcare Routine at Home
Dental exams and cleanings performed by a veterinarian are important, but they can’t replace the care your pet receives at home. We find that many people avoid brushing their dog or cat’s teeth because they’re afraid of their pet becoming aggressive. While your fear is understandable, keep in mind that pets love to please their owners and should eventually come to accept toothbrushing if you remain consistent in your approach and expectations.
 
If you have never brushed your pet’s teeth before, it’s important to start small. Try placing a small amount of toothpaste on a treat and allow him to lick it off to experience the taste. If that goes okay, approach your pet when he’s calm and massage his jaws to get him to open his mouth. Place the toothbrush in his mouth, but don’t start brushing yet. That can wait until he tolerates you placing something in his mouth. Start by doing just the front teeth and then work your way up to brushing all the teeth for a full two minutes.
 
Be sure to give your pet lots of praise and affection for any amount of cooperation. However, don’t reward her with treats beyond the first session. Giving her a treat each time will defeat the purpose of daily toothbrushing in the first place. Please let us know if you have additional questions or would like a demonstration of toothbrushing at your pet’s next preventive care exam.
 
Photo Credit: photodeti / Getty Images

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