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February is Pet Dental Health Month

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Healthy pets are happy pets. Dental health is critical to pets’ well-being. Veterinarians focus on oral health not just during the month of February, but with their patients all year long. What can owners do to keep their pet’s teeth healthy?

The most important thing a pet parent can do is schedule regular wellness appointments with their veterinarian. At that appointment, the veterinarian will examine the pet’s teeth, looking for healthy teeth and gums, and noting any signs of periodontal disease. Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats. It can sometimes be caused by other diseases or can lead to other problems. Prevention and early detection are key to your pet’s overall health.

Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth is also very important. Starting a kitten or puppy with an oral hygiene routine is obviously best, but an older cat or dog can be gently accustomed to tooth brushing with some patience. Start by finding an appropriate toothbrush or finger brush. Pets need a pet-appropriate toothpaste, not a human toothpaste that is not meant to be swallowed. Pet toothpaste come in a variety of pet-friendly flavors. Pet stores or your veterinarian can help you find toothbrush supplies. Start slowly. It’s ok to basically brush the outside of their teeth, especially at first or if they are uncooperative. Be patient!

Other dental-health aids include special supplements or treats meant to help with the build-up of plaque. The knowledgeable staff at your veterinarian’s office can help you find the best options for your pet. There are special dental diets available through prescription from your veterinarian as well. In addition, some toys may also help. Look for toys that encourage appropriate chewing while helping to “clean” teeth. As always, make sure any toy your give to your pet is safe for him or her. If you have any doubts, ask your veterinarian’s advice before giving it to them to play with.

Most pets have some beginning dental disease by 3 years old. Your veterinarian may recommend a professional dental cleaning. Professional cleaning is essential to good oral hygiene and to preventing further disease. It is an investment into your pet’s overall health and well-being and it will help in avoiding future health problems.

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