Dental care is one of the most neglected pet
health needs. Puppies and dogs can become accustomed to proper
dental care by periodic brushing with a pet toothpaste.
disease is very common in older dogs and causes bad breath, and often
serious infections. A dental exam can determine whether your pet
needs preventive dental care such as scaling, polishing, and
Puppies develop 28 temporary teeth at two
to three weeks of age. Their 42 permanent teeth emerge at about four
Studies show that by age 3, 80 percent of dogs exhibit signs of gum
Small dog breeds are more likely than large breeds to develop
periodontal disease. Canine dentistry experts believe this is because
the teeth of small dogs often are too large for their mouths, forcing
the teeth closer together.
In addition to providing regular dental checks for their pets, pet
owners can take steps at home to ensure good oral health:
Feed a specially formulated pet food with proven oral health benefits in
daily plaque and tartar control
Brush the pet's teeth with a specially formulated toothpaste in flavors
appealing to dogs. Toothpaste for humans should not be used because it
can upset stomachs for pets.
Thousands upon thousands of loving pet owners take their pets to regular
checkups at the veterinarian. After this annual routine, many feel they
have provided the most complete care for their pets. But studies in
recent years indicate this is not enough.
Veterinarians have learned that regular dental care is vitally important
in ensuring pets overall health. A mouth full of bacteria can cause
serious health problems for pets in addition to tooth loss or painful
gum disease, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society.
"Oral infections, if left untreated, may infect other organs such
as the heart, liver or kidneys," said Dr. Ellen Logan, president of
the AVDS and a senior scientist of oral care with Hills Pet Nutrition,
"Periodontal disease may cause bacteria and toxins to enter the
bloodstream, carrying the infection to other parts of the animal's
Total pet healthcare - beginning with proper oral care - is the emphasis
of the "Pets Need Dental Care, Too" campaign in February. The
1999 awareness campaign is the fifth annual observance sponsored by the
AVDS, the American Veterinary Medical Association and Hill's during
National Pet Dental Health Month.
The need for education is great. Oral disease is the most frequently
diagnosed health problem for pets. An astounding 80 percent of dogs show
signs of oral disease by age 3.
That's why local veterinarians are an integral part of the pet dental
health campaign. They play a key role in educating pet owners about the
risks their pets face if oral care is not a priority. The growth of
bacteria in a dog's mouth or on the teeth may lead to the formation of
plaque and tartar. Plaque and tartar buildup then have the potential to
cause periodontal infections that can spread to other organs.
The following steps suggested by veterinarians can put a bite into
potential health problems:
Take your dog to the Vet for a dental exam. Don't wait for
his annual checkup if you suspect a problem.
Begin a dental care regimen at home. Your veterinarian can
suggest steps that may include brushing your pet's teeth, One of the
most convenient and effective ways to combat oral disease is feeding
specially formulated foods proven effective in removing plaque and
tartar buildup. The Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health
Council, an organization initiated by members of the American Veterinary
Dental Society to guide consumers, appears on products that meet defined
standards for plaque and tartar control in dogs an cats.
Schedule regular veterinary dental checkups. These are
essential in helping your veterinarian monitor the progress of your
pet's dental health routine.
Please, take pet dental care to heart. It's one way to ensure good
health and vitality for your best friend.
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