Dental Hygiene Important For Pets, Too

While most dogs or cats will not immediately accept a dental hygiene regimen, it can be successfully introduced with patience, particularly if you start when the pet is young.

Pointers On Pets

Dental Hygiene Important For Pets, Too

(NAPSA)—Almost 80 percent of adults brush their teeth at least twice a day, according to the American Dental Association, but many of us also completely ignore the dental health of our pets. February is National Pet Dental
Health Month, sponsored in part by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA offers some tips and information on how to keep your pet’s teeth healthy:

• Look for signs of tooth decay and oral disease by inspecting your pet’s teeth regularly. Bad breath, discoloration and tartar are all indications of problems that could lead to serious health risks with the potential for not only damaging teeth and gums but internal organs.

• Regular visits to your veterinarian should include a complete checkup of your pet’s teeth. Your veterinarian should clean plaque and tartar off your pet’s teeth if necessary. When tartar—created by the mixture of food debris, saliva and bacteria in the mouth —is allowed to build up unabated, it can accumulate between teeth and gums, causing tooth loss and leading to an infection that can enter the bloodstream and spread to the heart or other internal organs.

• Brush your pet’s teeth daily or at least weekly. While most dogs or cats will not immediately accept a dental hygiene regimen, it can be successfully introduced with patience, particularly if you start when the pet is young. To acclimate your pet to dental health, start slowly, using plenty of praise and treats. Begin at a time when your pet is relaxed and massage the outside of his or her mouth with your finger. Then give your pet a tasty pet toothpaste—poultry-flavored is the most popular—and slowly introduce a toothbrush to his or her teeth. Begin brushing in short intervals, working up to about 30 seconds a side.

• Dogs don’t accumulate as much tartar on the outside of their teeth as they do on the inside, so focus your dental hygiene attention there.

• Feed your dog or cat crunchy food, or at least a mix of hard and soft foods. The abrasive texture of kibble can help keep teeth clean, while soft food can cling to your pet’s teeth and lead to decay. Also consider crunchy treats, which also help clean teeth.

• Chew toys for dogs and rope toys that cats can chew are not only immensely entertaining for your pet, but they help keep teeth clean and breath smelling fresh.

For more information on this and other pet issues, contact the AVMA at www.avma.org.

Original Source: napsnet.com