(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) January 30, 2013—It’s an integral part of your morning routine. Still half asleep, you step up to your bathroom sink and pick up your toothbrush. Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t make it a habit of providing good dental hygiene for their pets, too. Pet Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), is reminding pet owners that brushing their pet’s teeth can result in long-term savings.
“Good pet owners are concerned about their pets’ health and are careful to keep their vaccinations up to date, but may forget about the importance of oral health. Great owners know that this is a big mistake, as periodontal disease is the most common health problem that veterinarians find in pets,” explains Dr. Douglas Aspros, president of the AVMA. “Dental health problems are extremely common, and many are very painful and can lead to serious systemic conditions. I remind pet owners that an untreated dental infection can spread to the heart, kidneys and other organs, and suddenly become life threatening. Practicing good dental hygiene at home in addition to regular cleanings by your veterinarian is the most efficient and cost-effective way to extend your pet’s life, while keeping them comfortable and pain-free.”
“Correcting dental health problems can be expensive. If your veterinarian diagnoses your pet with tooth or gum disease, they may recommend that your pet’s teeth be professionally cleaned, x-rays may be called for, and it’s possible that a tooth or even multiple teeth may need to be extracted,” explains Dr. Brook A. Niemiec, a board certified veterinary dentist and president of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry. “Unfortunately, only about 1 percent of pet owners brush their pet’s teeth. Not only do more pet owners need to brush their pet’s teeth, but they should also use chew toys, treats and rawhides to help keep their pet’s teeth clean. There are a number of inexpensive and highly effective products available that can help keep your pet’s teeth clean between professional cleanings. If you have questions about the right products to use, consult your veterinarian.”
A list of Veterinary Oral Health Council approved products is available at www.VOHC.org.
While regular dental checkups are essential to help maintain your pet’s dental health, there are a number of signs that dental disease has already started. If you notice any of the symptoms below, take your pet into your veterinarian as soon as possible:
*Bad breath—Most pets have breath that is less than fresh, but if it becomes truly repugnant, that’s a sign that periodontal disease has already started.
*Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth.
*Reluctance to eat hard foods.
*Red swollen gums and brownish teeth.
To help pet owners prevent periodontal disease, the AVMA offers a video providing step-by-step instructions on how to brush your pet’s teeth and a video on periodontal disease. The AVMA website also has a webpage on pet dental health that offers links to an informative podcast and other information resources on pet dental health.
The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 84,000 member veterinarians worldwide engaged in a wide variety of professional activities and dedicated to the art and science of veterinary medicine.