A Happy and Healthy Pet: National Pet Dental Month

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When I was a kid, my dad always told me “clean teeth are happy teeth.” Now that I’m older, I realize what true wisdom that was. And with Valentine's Day quickly approaching, chances are our daily intake of sugar will triple. Is it any wonder amidst all the candy and romantic feelings, the American Veterinary Medical Association has declared February National Pet Dental Month. At Deceased Pet Care we wanted join in the celebration and draw attention to an often overlooked part of pet care. A clean and happy mouth is a great way to tell your pet I love you this Valentine's Day.

More than a Smile

We love being greeting with a wagging tale and a warm smile after a long day of work. But did you know your pet’s oral health is a great indicator of overall health? Certain conditions manifest through the mouth, and if you pay close attention, you can catch several pet conditions before it’s too late.

A Likely Event

Due to the conditions inside your dog and cat’s mouth, cavities are very unlikely. However, almost 80 percent of pets experience some form of gum disease by age three. Those are staggering numbers. Without care, this gum disease can lead to pain and irritability. Now that we know it happens, let’s talk about what to look for.

Causes for Concern

One of the best indicators of dental/oral problems with your pet is bad breath. Halitosis is one of the first signs and easiest to recognize. Periodontal disease takes many forms, other signs include, but are not limited to: a refusal to eat, mouth pain or sensitivity, excessive drooling, red or puffy gums, tartar, dropping food while eating, or only chewing on one side of the mouth.

If you notice one or more of these signs in your pet, it’s best to schedule a meeting with your pet as soon as possible. Keep a weekly check up and take notes. Your vet is best when he/she is most informed.

A Slow Start

If we’re honest, taking care of our pet’s teeth probably hasn’t been our top priority in the past. That’s okay, it’s never too late to start. But also know adjusting to a regular cleaning schedule will take some adjusting for you and your pet too. Start slow by brushing once a week and slowly build to three times a week. Spend some time with your pet, allowing them to adjust to your hands in and around their mouth. Don’t be worried if they don’t immediately take to the process. It could take weeks or even months to form a habit.

Treat ‘Em Right

Chances are, your pet isn’t going to be too keen on having your fingers or a brush in their mouth. Make the process a little more enticing with peanut butter for your dog or tuna water for your cat. Pet stores also offer special flavored toothpastes for your pet. Whatever you choose, don’t use human toothpaste! The detergents and fluoride can cause serious digestive distress when swallowed.

Better than Nothing

If you don’t think you’ll be able to regularly commit to a dental schedule for your pet, do the next best things and ensure the food they eat helps with healthy oral hygiene. Look for dental approved foods. Buy some teeth cleaning snacks, and give them a bone or toy to chew on in their free time. There are a myriad of products to help your pet’s oral health without brushing. So although nothing can replace dedicated time for owner initiated oral care, do the next best thing and provide your pet with as many opportunities for a clean and healthy mouth as possible.

At Deceased Pet Care, we wants our beloved pets to have as many happy and healthy smiles as they’ve brought us. They’re part of the family after all. So this Valentines Day, trade out those sweets for something they’ll really love -- clean and happy teeth (oh yeah, gums too!)