Pet Dental Disease : More Than Bad Breath!

It seems that today?s pets are more pampered than ever. Pet owners indulge their furry friends with premium food and treats, colorful toys, and even dress them in posh, fashionable outfits. They get them kitty condos and obedience lessons, vitamins and vaccines. But there is one aspect of pet care that even the most loving owners tend to miss: Pet dental disease prevention.

Dental care is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of pet ownership, but ignoring it can not only cause major dental disease in pets, it can lead to more serious health problems including heart, kidney and lung disease. Shockingly, according to the American Veterinarian Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show some signs of gum disease by age 2.

There are many types of dental diseases that dogs and cats can acquire. The most common are :

? Gingivitis

? Tooth abscess, especially of the carnaissal teeth

? Cavities

? Cracked teeth

? Worn down teeth

So what should a conscientious pet owner do to prevent dental disease in their pet?

It?s essential that dental care in pets, as with people, be preventative. Your pet?s teeth should have the tarter scraped off of them every 3-6 months, and be professionally cleaned under general anesthesia at least once a year.

The most important thing you can do at home to stave off dental disease is to brush your pet?s teeth. Brushing regularly will keep gums healthy and prevent tartar build up. Obviously, some pets will be more complacent about having their teeth brushed than others. Cats especially tend to balk at the idea of human fingers poking around their pearly whites. In these cases, you can slowly get your pet comfortable with tooth brushing by progressing from a finger, to a gauze pad or cotton swab (perhaps dipped in their favorite treat) on the gums, to eventually using a soft bristled toothbrush. Remember to always properly restrain your pet before brushing their teeth to avoid problems.

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If you think these precautions seem over the top or unnecessary, think again: Studies have shown that taking measures to prevent dental disease in your pet may add as much as 5 years to their life. So go ahead and buy Spot that fancy collar and splurge on a new toy for Tabby. Just don?t forget to pick up that toothbrush while you?re at it!