By Ashley Watson
Brushing your pet’s teeth may not be at the top of your to do list, but according to the to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 to 85 percent of all pets have periodontal disease. That number jumps to 100 percent in pets over 4 years of age. In fact, it is the number one health problem diagnosed in dogs and cats.
Dental health is important to the overall health of your pet because it affects the health of the heart, lungs and kidneys, which is why it is important to provide your pet with proper daily dental care before there is a problem. February is the perfect time to get into this habit since it is National Pet Dental Health Month. Help protect your pet from periodontal disease, and read this week’s post with dental health tips for your pet.
The Importance of Preventive Care
In a recent USA Today article, Steve Dale explores some of the reasons pet parents are not taking their pets to the veterinarian for regular visits, which according to Peggy Lykens-Ruh, are essential in preventing disease in animals. “Our pets don’t look into mirrors or inspect their own bodies,” says Peggy, who has five dogs and organizes dog rescue events in the Chicago area. After what she’s seen in her years of working with rescue dogs, she believes that these necessary checkups should be done once a year.
The article also cites some startling statistics, “Dog vet visits have slipped 21% since 2001 and cat visits have dropped 30%,” and according to an annual report from Banfield Pet Hospital, “Diabetes is up 32% in dogs since 2006…Arthritis is up 38% in dogs and 67% in cats since 2007. Thyroid and kidney disease are up. Even flea infestation are increasing.” Periodontal disease is certainly not immune to this trend, especially since preventive care is the only way to avoid most dental diseases in pets.
Cost is one factor, and most veterinarians agree that the economic dip in 2008 certainly played a role. Nervous pets could be another reason, but avoiding the vet for any reason poses a larger threat. A Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study reports that 39% of pet owners say that if there’s a problem, they will search the Internet for an answer before taking the pet to the veterinarian. But the Internet is only a place to garner general information; it’s not a reliable source for treatment recommendations or medication. While the supplements from Pet Naturals® are part of preventive care and supporting your pet’s overall health, we strongly encourage regular vet visits and dental cleanings.
Dental Health Tips
Regular dental care is one of the easiest ways to help your pet avoid painful tooth decay and in severe cases, tooth removal. Dental care doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Your vet will be able to tell you whether or not it’s time for a cleaning during annual checkups. But there are plenty of ways to provide periodontal support between visits. Brushing is always an option; however, unless your pet is calm by nature, brushing your pet’s teeth may not be the most viable option.
If you are going to use dental care products for pets, make sure you speak with your vet about your options. This helps ensure that you get the most reliable and cost-effective product for your particular situation. You will always want to look for a product designed to work in between regular cleanings to help maintain the benefits of the cleaning. Keep in mind that some dental products can upset the GI tract in some dogs and cats, so you’ll want to explore all options. There are also products that provide many benefits in addition to dental care.
Breath Bars by Pet Naturals® is a delicious chewy bar to help keep your dog’s breath fresh by combining unique ingredients, including the Champex™ brand Champignon mushroom. This mushroom has been extensively studied for its ability to suppress odor-causing chemicals in the intestines, where bad breath starts. It also contains pumice, which is a natural abrasive that reduces plaque and bacteria that can lead to doggy breath and tooth decay. We also carry Smelly Cat to offer similar dental benefits for cats.
How often do you take your pet in for dental cleanings? What are some other ways you help support your pet’s dental health? Share your story with us on Facebook.