February is National Pet Dental Health Month

National-Pet-Dental-Health-MonthThe condition of a pet’s teeth and gums can have a profound impact on many other aspects of their health. With that in mind, the American Veterinary Medical Association and other pet health groups founded National Pet Dental Health Month, an awareness campaign that is observed every February.

Indeed, pet parents need to gain as much education as they can about how to best take care of their pets’ smiles, because dental ailments such as periodontal disease can harm an animal’s other organs and lead to even more serious ailments, including heart and kidney disease.

I learned this the hard way years ago, when my tabby cat, Amanda, developed an abscessed tooth that resulted in a residual bladder infection and high fever. My poor gal had to undergo major oral surgery and being plied with a battery of meds to get through this.

Tips for Maintaining Pet Dental Health

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to caring for your pets’ teeth and gums. As such, veterinarians recommend regular teeth brushing for companion animals. Many pet stores now carry toothbrushes and other pet oral health supplies, which are a great investment.

*Note: Never use people toothpastes on pets, as these contain such ingredients as foaming agents and xylitol, which can cause liver damage and other ailments if animals ingest these.

As many pets are not amenable to having their teeth brushed, there are dental chews and toys specifically designed to help prevent dental issues. If you like the natural approach to pet health care, the Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer website provides some great recommendations for holistic pet oral care and products. Prominent holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker also has some great advice on the Mercola Healthy Pets website.

In addition, a number of pet groomers now offer dog teeth cleaning services. Otherwise, it’s very important to ensure that your pets maintain a healthy diet, which can further help to ward off dental ailments. Last but not least, be sure to have your veterinarian perform dental exams on your pets on a regular basis.

What to Do When Pets Develop Dental Ailments

There are some telltale signs that indicate that your pet may have a dental ailment:

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Broken teeth
  • Chronic sneezing
  • Growths in the mouth
  • Swollen and/or infected eyes
  • Changes in behavior

If your pets develop any of these signs and symptoms, be sure to whisk them to a vet who has experience with pet dental issues ASAP. However, many pets do not exhibit any signs of dental ailments. So as mentioned previously, it’s very important to have a vet conduct a comprehensive oral exam on a regular basis to help keep your pets’ choppers, and overall health, in tip top shape, this month and all year round.

Photo from the American Veterinary Medical Association

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