August spotlight: Brush up on your pet's dental health
SUMMARY: Four out of 5 dogs show signs of oral disease by age three, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Take care of your pooch!
Posted: August 7, 2014
For our Aussie neighbors down under, August is Pet Dental Health Month. But many Americans have been observing the month too (think of it as a half birthday-type celebration of the U.S. Pet Dental Month). When was the last time you brushed Fido's teeth or took Max to the veterinarian for a dental health exam?
Many pet owners may not realize how essential oral care is. The American Veterinary Medical Association reported that 4 out of 5 dogs show signs of oral disease by age three. Long-lasting dog breath may be an underlying symptom of a disease. Furthermore, about 7 of 10 cats exhibit symptoms as well, including blackened teeth and tartar buildup along gums.
Despite those numbers being too high, maintaining the oral health of our four-legged friends does not appear to be a top priority. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association said that only 14 percent of dogs and 9 percent of cats receive dental care at the veterinarian's office.
If you want your dog to stay chipper, start paying attention to his or her oral health - it's closely connected to your pet's overall health. Harmful bacteria in an animal's mouth can enter the pet's bloodstream and cause infections throughout the body. The AVMA reported that the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver are organs most affected by oral diseases.
"Dental care is key in maintaining a pet's overall health," Dr. Cori Gross, a field veterinarian for Veterinary Pet Insurance, explained.
Taking better dental care of your pet
There are easy ways to get your pet's oral health under wraps.
- First, take your pet to the vet for a dental exam. Dogs and cats should have a routine veterinarian examination, including an examination of teeth and gums, at least once a year.
- Brush your pet's teeth. When you start scrubbing your fuzzy friend's teeth, he likely won't enjoy it. But the more you do it, the more comfortable he will become. Reward your pooch or cat with a healthy treat after the first few times to show they did a good job.
- Use oral solution: If your animal has some serious dog breath, there is a simple solution that can help. Get him a fresh breath solution to fight odors produced by sulfuric anaerobic bacteria. The perks? It's an easy at-home treatment!
- Schedule dental cleanings: Follow up with dental checkups by scheduling the next one after you leave the vet.