Is Your Pet in Need of a Dental Checkup?

February is a big month for teeth. Not only is it National Children’s Dental Health Month, it’s also Pet Dental Health Month. This makes February a good time to brush up on some of the basics of caring for the teeth of your furry friends. Just like with people, your pet’s oral health can be an indicator of overall well-being, so you want to make sure you’re doing all you can to keep “Spot’s” and “Fluffy’s” teeth in good shape.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is spending this month reminding people that just as they should be going to the dentist for regular checkups, pets need dental exams too.

“Periodontal disease is the most common health problem that veterinarians find in pets,” explains Rene Carlson, D.V.M, president of the AVMA. “It’s estimated that by the age of 2, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease.”

Carlson added that the cost of a pet toothbrush and toothpaste is far less than what you would spend on getting these conditions treated. Here are some tips for brushing your pet’s teeth, and signs that something may be wrong:

  • Start Early: Naples News spoke to a veterinarian who said that you should start brushing when your pet is young. Get them used to having your fingers in their mouth, and rub their teeth with a clean washcloth before introducing a toothbrush.
  • Toothpaste: Don’t use human toothpaste, because it’s not meant to be swallowed and can irritate your pet’s stomach. Instead, buy paste that is specifically made for animals at your local pet store.
  • Brushing: When performing the actual brushing, do it similarly to how you would brush your own teeth. Start in the back of the mouth and make your way up to the front of the teeth, making small circles. Ask your vet to give you a demonstration the next time you’re there.

Some signs that your pet may have dental problems include:

  • Exceptionally bad breath
  • Constant pawing of the mouth
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Reluctance to eat solid foods

It shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to brush your pet’s teeth, and even the smallest effort can make a big difference. Ask your veterinarian what you can do to ensure that your pets receive proper oral care.

How do you take care of your furry friend’s oral health? Share with us in the comments below!


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