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February is National Pet Dental Health Month

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2292871.jpgOral health care is just as important for your pets as it is your human companions. Things you may consider "normal" may actually signify a serious health risk, with potential damage to your pet's teeth, gums, and even its internal organs.

Because February is National Pet Dental Health Month, we thought it was the perfect time to talk a little more about oral health and how to improve the dental and overall health of your pets.

As a part of your regular health check-ups, your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you suspect an issue. Some signs of oral and dental diseases in dogs and cats include stinky breath, loose teeth or discolored teeth (tartar build-up), drooling or dropping food from mouth, bleeding from mouth, loss of appetite, or loss of weight.

You can help in early prevention of common oral diseases in your pets by frequently removing the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth that are not kept clean.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says: "Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible and brushing several times a week can be effective. Most dogs accept brushing, but cats can be a bit more resistant – patience and training are important."

Certain pet products, including certain chew toys and edible treats, can also assist in promoting good oral health care. Rachel Nannen McGinnis, manager of Pets Plus, suggests the following treats and chews for your pets: Ark Natural "Brushless" Toothpaste chews, Greenies, Whimzees (no grain, potato based), Blue Buffalo Chew Bones, Antlers, Ruff Roots and Gorilla Chews (all natural, sustainably sourced roots), Nylabones, and Frozen Raw Bones by Primal. Each of these products is a great addition to your pet's overall oral health care routine, many of them with all-natural ingredients and shapes to breakdown tartar, plaque, and prevent bad breath.

If you have other small animals, your at-home care may vary. Ferret's teeth are wondrous tools, enabling the ferret to eat, to grab onto and hold or move objects (much like another hand). As a ferret owner, veterinarians suggest brushing their teeth twice monthly. You can do this with a feline brush (latex thimble or bristle brush), and some flavored pet toothpaste.

For further instructions, here is a great article detailing how.

Domesticated rodents (mice, rats, chinchillas, and guinea pigs) need to gnaw on materials to keep their teeth worn down. If the incisors aren't worn down, they will continue to grow and create health problems down the road. Part of this will come from the pelleted food they eat and break down, but additional hay and wooden blocks may be necessary for your small animal's oral health.

As always, if you have any questions, refer to our website or ask our pet experts in store at Pets Plus.