Your pet’s dental health has gotten a lot more attention in recent years as advances in treatment have become widespread. It’s no longer enough to give your dog a ‘teeth cleaning’ dog chew to rid them of their bad breath and tartar build up. They need regular, thorough cleaning to prevent gum disease, tooth decay and that bad breath.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a wealth of resources to help pet owners understand the importance of regular dental care as well as do-it-yourself guides and instructions for keeping Buddy’s teeth in tip top shape.
Just like in humans, plaque and tartar can build up on your dog or cat’s teeth and cause periodontal disease. It’s estimated that over 70% of dog’s and cat’s over the age of four have some periodontal disease. That’s a scary statistics when you understand what untreated periodontal disease can lead to. That bad breath may be just a mild case, but severe cases can lead to loss of appetite, broken teeth, even bone and jaw issues. Pets with untreated periodontal disease are also at greater risk for heart, kidney and liver disorders.
Prevention is so easy. Regular brushing (daily) and regular check-ups with your veterinarian are all you need. A soft bristled brush and a toothpaste designed specifically for pets are recommended. You can supplement that cleaning with bones specifically designed to help remove tartar.
If you haven’t been regular in your pet’s dental care, ask your vet if they need a deep cleaning. Your vet can provide this service and many of them give discounts during the month of February. They will anesthetize your pet and then perform a thorough scraping of their teeth, removing any built up plaque or tartar. It may even require some extractions if any of your pet’s teeth have decayed.
Once you’ve gone through the cleaning, you can keep up the good dental hygiene on your own with a daily brushing and then regular (annual) check-ups with your vet.
Resources available through AVMA:
- Discussion on the importance of dental health for our pets, an interview with Dr. Jan Bellows, a former president of the American Veterinary Dental College Share
- Take the AVMA quiz to see how much you know about your pet’s dental health. http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2511639/169767dabec4
- Watch this step-by-step guide to brushing your pet’s teeth with Dr. Sheldon Rubin.