February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Does your pet have bad breath? Bad breath not only smells bad, it can be unhealthy.

Up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats that do not receive proper dental care may show signs of dental disease by the age of 3.

Gingivitis is considered the earliest stage of periodontal disease. This stage is reversible with proper care. In the early phase of gingivitis, some plaque is present and there is a mild redness of the gums.

Periodontal disease is an inflammation of some or all of a tooth’s deep supporting structures. Periodontal disease is the most common clinical conditions occurring in adult dogs and cats and although the prognosis is irreversible, it is entirely preventable. Periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth form a substance called plaque that sticks to the surface of the teeth. Subsequently, minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into tartar, which is firmly attached to the teeth. The real problem develops as plaque and tartar spread under the gum line. Bacteria under the gum line secrete toxins, which contribute to the tissue damage if untreated, and eventually leading to the loss of the tooth.

What steps can be taken to ensure your pet’s dental health? If not daily brushing, at least weekly brushing of your pet’s teeth will get great results. Do NOT use regular human toothpaste for your dog. Most human toothpastes include fluoride, which is extremely poisonous to dogs. You can find toothpaste formulated for dogs at most pet stores. Crunchy foods make for less tartar build up than canned food. Chew toys and rope toys will naturally clean their teeth as they play and giving your pet dental treats is one of the easiest ways to improve their dental health. You get your teeth checked once a year-your pet should too!