February is National Pet Dental Month
SUMMARY: Dog breath might be a sign of an underlying health condition. If your four-legged friends are truly part of the family, keep a healthy smile on their faces.
Posted: February 4, 2014
Fido's dog breath might not be something to turn your head to. February is National Pet Dental Month, and veterinarians nationwide are taking this opportunity to educate pet owners about the importance of dental health. You don't want dog breath to be the first thing to greet you when you arrive home, right?
According to the American Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats indicate signs of oral disease by age three. While most pets have breath that is less than minty fresh, veterinarians say that if it becomes truly repugnant, it could suggest an underlying health disorder.
"Good pet owners are concerned about their pets' health and are careful to keep their vaccinations up to date, but may forget about the importance of oral health," Dr. Douglas Aspros, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, explained in a press release.
To first monitor the health of a pet's mouth, look at his teeth and gums. If the teeth are white, the gums a light pink color and the breath is fresh, your pet likely has good oral health. If not, ask your veterinarian about a teeth cleaning.
Many owners may notice a yellowish or blackened coating along the bottom of the teeth near the gum line. That's called dental plaque, a mineralized material that traps harmful bacteria. Over time, these bacteria erode dental enamel and lead to inflammation, known as gingivitis. This condition, which appears as the reddening of the gums directly bordering the teeth, is an early stage of periodontal disease.
Today, periodontal disease is one of the most common health problems in dogs. Though most pet owners do not consider this a troubling issue, veterinarians will tell you otherwise. After an extended period of time, advanced stage gum disease can result in bone loss, tissue destruction and pus formation in the pockets between teeth and gums.
Even worse, like in humans, periodontal disease in our pets is associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and adverse pregnancy outcomes, according to the U.S Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health.
"Dental health problems are extremely common, and many are very painful and can lead to serious systemic conditions," Aspros told the source. "I remind pet owners that an untreated dental infection can spread to the heart, kidneys and other organs, and suddenly become life threatening. Practicing good dental hygiene at home in addition to regular cleanings by your veterinarian is the most efficient and cost-effective way to extend your pet's life, while keeping them comfortable and pain-free."
Truly, prevention is a money-saver! Brushing your pet's teeth can result in long-term savings on your veterinary bills and keep your four-legged friend as happy as can be.
Your pet's six-month wellness visit should include a thorough oral examination. If you spot inflammation or any other oral disease, don't hesitate to schedule a dental cleaning immediately. Using light anesthesia, your veterinarian or licensed veterinary technician will remove the dental plaque, examine the depth of gum pockets, evaluate tooth surfaces for decay, polish the enamel and apply fluoride to strengthen the teeth.
Keep in mind, pets need dental care, too.
National Pet Dental Month coincides with Children's Dental Health Month, which is also in February. In some cases, we may encounter the same issue of reliance on oral care in youngsters. If your four-legged friends are truly part of the family, be sure to keep them healthy.