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Your pet’s dental health is much more complex than just
maintaining a dazzling, pearly white smile. Though easy to
overlook, our pets’ oral hygiene should be taken very seriously.
With February being Pet Dental Health Month, there is no better
time to begin awareness and maintenance of your pet’s oral
“Oral hygiene has a direct effect on the overall health of your
pet,” said Dr. Bert Dodd, clinical professor at the Texas A&M
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Dental
disease affects a significant number of pets during their lifetime,
and just like with people, there can be serious consequences
accompanied with poor dental health.
The belief that our pets are supposed to have foul breath is a
common misconception. Although their breath certainly won’t smell
like roses, extremely foul odor can be the first sign of a severe
dental problem. “Often, exceptionally bad breath is the first
indicator of oral disease,” said Dodd. Some other indicators of
oral disease may include excessive drooling, inflamed gums, and
"Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a disease of neglect,”
said Dodd. “If preventative dental health is not practiced, and
periodontal therapy ignored, other health complications may
follow.” The infected areas of the mouth contain bacteria that can
then spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body such
as the heart, kidneys, or liver. Preventing such detrimental side
effects is possible with regular upkeep and awareness.
Dental care for your pet should begin early on, so it is vital
that your veterinarian teach you how to properly care for their
teeth and gums right away. Veterinarians can provide demonstrations
of the most effective and hassle-free way to brush their teeth, as
well as which diets and toys are the safest and most effective.
Another important step in caring for your pet’s dental health is
to provide them with complete teeth cleaning under anesthesia with
your pet’s veterinarian. “Oral examinations and cleaning should be
performed on your pet at least once a year,” said Dodd. “They
should be performed more frequently if home care can’t be done or
if there are other oral problems.”
In addition to annual oral examinations, daily home dental care
is vital. “Home care includes everything from brushing, using
proper dental chews, water additives, and dental diets,” said Dodd.
A toothbrush and toothpaste specifically made for pets, as well as
wipes and pads, are just a few items to invest in.
Like regular grooming and exercise, dental care should become a
routine for both you and your pet to strictly follow. Regular tooth
brushing, accompanied by annual oral examinations and at home
checkups, will lead to one happy pet with a dazzling and healthy
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.
Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for
future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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