The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has designated February as Pet Dental Health Month.
Many pet owners underestimate the importance of dental hygiene for their pets. According to Dr. Douglas Aspros, president of the AVMA, “Dental health problems are extremely common, and many are very painful and can lead to serious systemic conditions. 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.”
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It is estimated that less than 1 percent of pet owners brush their pet’s teeth. And while dental hygiene should be a part of your everyday pet care routine, the month of February will see a focused effort by the AVMA and the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry to promote Pet Dental Health.
Brushing your pet’s teeth is not the only way to improve their dental health. Chew toys, treats, and other food items can also help when coupled with regular check-ups with your vet. A list of Veterinary Oral Health Council approved products is available at www.VOHC.org.
In addition to providing a range or resources on the website, the AVMA lists the following symptoms as signs of dental disease in your pet:
Bad breath—Most pets have breath that is less than fresh, but if it becomes truly repugnant, that’s a sign that periodontal disease has already started.
Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth.
Reluctance to eat hard foods.
Red swollen gums and brownish teeth.
If you have any concerns about your pet’s teeth, speak with your veterinarian.