February is Pet Dental Health Month, so we look at why proper care is important.
Healthy Teeth Make Healthy Pets
Dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) says caring for your pet’s teeth can prevent many problems.
Four out of five dogs over the age of 3 years have some sort of periodontal disease. Dental disease has significant health consequences. Inflamed and receding gums can occur, causing your pet pain and leading to very expensive medical procedures. It can lead to infection and abscesses in the mouth, as well as affect the heart, liver, and kidneys. Pets that don’t get dental care can painfully lose their teeth as they age.
It can be caused by the buildup of plaque. Just like in humans, plaque forms along the gum line and between the teeth of dogs. Once it's hardened into tartar, it will need to be removed by a veterinarian. Tartar is loaded with bacteria, and the mouth is a warm, moist environment for bacteria to multiply. That bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the gums. Once the bacteria makes it to the organs, they begin to slowly poison your pet.
Your dog and cat are very good at hiding pain – you might never know that your pet has a serious dental problem until it’s very advanced. Your pet might stop eating, or stop playing and exercising, because of dental pain and discomfort. A veterinarian should check your pet’s teeth and gums regularly for early signs of a problem, and proper oral hygiene is a must.
Hard pet food, rawhide and chew toys will help, but nothing beats brushing their teeth on a regular basis. This will help prevent plaque and tartar buildup and reduce the risks associated with dental disease. Plus, a pet with healthy teeth equals a pet with better breath!
Getting your pet used to teeth brushing may seem like a challenge, but there are videos to help you learn how to brush their teeth:
Knowledge test: How much do you know about your pet's dental health? Take this quiz to find out.