Do you have your recommended dental appointments scheduled for this year? How about for your dog or cat? February is Pet Dental Health Month, and it’s an important reminder that just like you, your pets can experience plaque and tartar build up that can eventually lead to periodontal disease.
This problem can get even worse as your pet gets older: Many veterinarians see evidence of tooth and gum problems in pets as young as 2 or 3 years of age, so by the time your dog or cat reaches senior status, it’s safe to say that they will have significant dental issues, up to and including missing teeth.
Since you dog or cat can’t tell you that they have a toothache or sore gums, you need to be on the lookout for the common signs of oral disease in dogs and cats:
- Yellow and brown tartar buildup
- Bleeding gums or other sores
- Bad breath
- Red, inflamed gums
- Difficulty chewing or eating less
- Weight loss as a result of not eating
- Unkempt or ungroomed coat
- Pawing at the mouth or excessive licking
How You Can Help Your Pet
Many of the issues caused by dental disease are preventable. Taking care of your pet’s teeth will pay off in many ways, and it’s easy to do once you have created a plan that works for you and your dog or cat. The most important part of your pet’s dental health plan is scheduling routine physical exams by your veterinarian. If your pet is seven years of age or older, these exams should be scheduled every six months.
Next, consider what you can do for your dog or cat at home. If your pet will allow it, brush their teeth daily, and use a special toothpaste made for your pet – human toothpaste is dangerous for dogs and cats. For dogs, use a toothbrush. Cat’s teeth can be cleaned using a finger cot, latex glove, or a piece of gauze. Brushing their teeth may seem like a strange idea at first, but it can help keep your pet’s mouth much healthier, which provides numerous benefits:
- Better breath
- Less oral bacteria can prevent heart, liver or kidney disease
- Less plaque and tartar
- Fewer oral infections
- Lower veterinarian bills
- Most importantly, less suffering for your dog or cat
The last step in creating a dental health plan is to consider what your pet eats. There are special dental-health formulas of cat and dog food that can help to keep teeth clean with kibbles that have a certain size, shape or texture. There are also numerous dental chews that can help remove tartar and plaque while your dog or cat enjoys a special treat. We like KaNoodles, due to their effective shape and easy digestibility.
This February, celebrate Pet Dental Health Month by making sure that you have a dental care plan in place that will keep your cat or dog happy and healthy for years to come.