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Pet Dental Health Month

February is National Pet Dental Health Month! Celebrate this year’s “Pets Need Dental Care, Too” campaign by taking your pets for a dental checkup. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the time they reach 3 years of age. This figures make oral disease the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets. Why is this such a problem?

Dogs and cats all have bacteria in their mouths. The bacteria feed off the food particles and sugars in the saliva. This mix of bacteria, food and saliva is perfect for plaque formation. Once plaque is present, it is only a matter of time until it hardens and becomes tartar. The key is to remove the plaque before it has a chance to become tartar. This can be done in one of several ways.

Ideally, you will brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth 5-7 times per week. This is the best preventive measure for a healthy mouth. However, most of us are unwilling or unable to do just this. Toys and treats are another way of preventing oral disease that is easier and appealing to most pet owners. Look for treats that have achieved the prestigious VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal of approval.

Once the tartar has adhered to the surface of the teeth, it must be removed during a veterinary procedure called a dental prophylaxis or simply a dental. This requires general anesthesia to be done thoroughly. This procedure can be quite costly when you factor in the cost of anesthesia, the labwork that should be done to make sure your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia, the dental itself, and any medications that need to be prescribed. Sometimes, if the dental disease has progressed, teeth with need to be extracted. Just like for us humans, once a tooth is pulled, it is gone forever.

If your pet has recently had a dental, consider brushing the teeth to keep the mouth (and your pet) healthy and happy for a longer period of time.

This section features current events in the veterinary world and information about pet care that is timely – such as holiday hazards around the holidays or dental care during the month of February. If you would like to see a particular topic, please use our contact form and choose ‘General Feedback, Other’.

Thanks for reading!
Veterinary Technical Services Department

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