18 Feb

Contributed by Jin Park, 9 to 5 Pets

February is known for heart shaped candies and chocolates; coincidentally, February is also National Pet Health Dental Month! It is sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to bring awareness and highlight the importance of oral health to the overall health, happiness, and well-being of your pet. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 70% of cats and 80% of dogs will develop some form of oral disease by the age of three. So it is important to take proper care of canine and feline teeth, because if left untreated, plaque and tartar can progress to periodontal disease which can then spread to other organs and cause secondary illness that can affect internal organs and joints.

Here are 4 simple steps to help keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy:

1. Beware of Bad Breath

“Doggy breath” is not just a saying; and when Phoebe from Friends wrote “Smelly Cat” she was definitely onto something big!  Bad breath could be a warning sign of periodontal disease or other oral disease. Make sure you seek veterinary advice if you notice a funky smell coming from your pet’s mouth.

2. Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
Prevention is key to good oral health. Watch this video of Dr. Sheldon Rubin (from AVMA) give easy step-by-step instructions on how to teach your pet to accept daily teeth brushing.

Dog Eating Dental Treat3. Consider Dental Toys and Treats
It’s not as effective as daily teeth brushing, but dental treats, rawhide, rubber chew toys, and rope toys may help from plaque and tartar buildup. Check for seal of acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) to make sure the products meet the standards for effective plaque and tartar control.

4. Dental Exams
Just like you and your family need regular dental checkups, so does your pet. Make sure you ask your Vet for dental exams annually.

As the AVMA stated, while February is National Pet Dental Health Month, dental health should be a daily ritual for pet owners all year long. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to oral health!

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