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Say, “Cheese!”  Dental Care and Your Pet

If you’re like the average American, you brush your own teeth at least twice a day. But, how often do you think about your pet’s?  Recent studies show more than 2/3 of pet owners overlook this important step in pet wellness.  Ignoring a pet’s teeth can lead to tooth loss, gum decay, and, you guessed it, stinky breath.  If neglected too long, dental disease can also have a  detrimental  effect on a pet’s heart and kidneys.

Preventative Care
Most vets will do a quick mouth check during an annual physical. Occasionally, deeper investigation may be needed, such as x-rays. But, most of the larger problems can be taken care of at home, before a vet’s intervention is required, with a little preventative care.

  • *  Dental treats:   Dog and cat treat manufacturers have realized the importance of dental care. These treats are specially modified to help remove plaque build-up on the teeth.  Some contain fluoride for additional protection. Check with your vet’s office to see which brands they recommend. Many times they have samples for your pet to try.
  • *  Brushing:  If the thought of brushing your pet’s teeth isn’t fun, think of the alternative. Meat-flavored toothpastes may not appeal to your palate, but most dogs and cats love them!  Instead of a traditional toothbrush, these pastes come with a fingertip applicator. A quick swish along your pet’s gums can save a whole lot of heartache down the road.
  • *  Holistic health:  Your pet’s health in general will often dictate its ability to fight disease.  Keep your pet in good overall health for optimum results. Steady exercise, along with good quality foods and fresh water, will help to keep it at its best. Regular check-ups by your veterinarian can catch early stages of periodontal issues (as well as other problems). This is especially important in smaller breeds of dog as they are more susceptible to bone loss when mouth and teeth health issues are present.
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Check with the Vet
Improper breeding and illness in early puppy-hood or kitten-hood can take their toll on your pet as an adult. A high fever, when young, can be devastating  to your pet as an adult. Many dogs or cats that have survived severe illness as a youngster will often have many health issues, including enamel problems with the permanent teeth. Regular health check-ups are vital!  This allows the vet to establish a ‘baseline’ , or starting point, for any irregularities. Be sure the vet knows your pet’s history, especially a rescued pet (if known), as it can have long term effects on its dental future.

So, the next time Fido has “poop breath”, don’t check the litter box to see if he has been sampling! It could be as easy as brushing his teeth.  

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