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Celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month in February

Tuesday, January 30, 2018  
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Your pet’s bad breath may be the first sign of a serious dental condition — periodontal disease.  The Arizona Veterinary Medical Association (AzVMA) recognizes National Pet Dental Health Month in February as an important reminder to schedule a dental checkup with your pet’s veterinarian and to ensure proper dental care all year long.


Dental health is very important because infection in the mouth can not only lead to damage of the heart and other organs, it can be very painful and will decrease the comfort and quality of our best friend's life,” says Dr. Victoria Lukasik, DVM, DACVAA, a veterinary anesthesiologist affiliated with Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center in Tucson.


By the age of three, the majority of dogs and cats show signs of periodontal disease, inflammation of the tissues around their teeth when their immune system responds to the presence of bacteria, according to the AVMA, sponsor of the month-long observance.  The condition can cause tooth pain and loss, loss of appetite, and contribute to liver disease, kidney failure, and infection that could be life-threatening.


Annual oral exams, X-rays and dental cleanings under general anesthesia are recommended.  An easy way to remember your pet’s dental health is to set an appointment for them when you schedule your own dental checkups.  It’s an easy way to ensure not only your pet’s dental health, but its overall well-being by avoiding the serious issues that result from poor dental hygiene.


Pet owners can take action at home as well.  In addition to bad breath, take notice of discolored teeth, drooling, problems chewing and refusing to eat, and oral bleeding; report these conditions to your veterinarian.  Daily toothbrushing is an important tool in keeping your pet’s teeth and gums in good condition, but it can be a challenging process to introduce.  Ideally, it should be introduced to young pets and kept as a lifelong routine.  Pets should not use fluoride toothpaste formulated for people; there are a variety of pet toothpastes on the market, often flavored to make them more palatable, and an array of traditional and finger-style toothbrushes often paired in pet dental care kits.  Providing safe chew toys and choosing dental formula dry food will support good dental health.  

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