February is National Pet Dental Health Month

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An animal's dental health is more than just a cosmetic issue. Poor oral hygiene may lead to serious disease in our pets. Given that February is National Pet Dental Health Month, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association encourages you to better care for your pet's teeth. Just as we can experience plaque and bacteria build-up in our mouths, so can our animals.

The American Veterinary Dental Society states that "oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in dogs and cats." Periodontal disease is an infection between the tooth and gum. Treatment for this disease can include costly x-rays and tooth extraction.

Symptoms of periodontal disease consist of discolored teeth, increased pawing at the mouth, and putrid breath. When left untreated, your pet may suffer more serious conditions. President of the American Veterinary Medical Association Dr. Rene Carlson states "untreated periodontal disease can lead to kidney disease and even diabetes and cancer." Though all pets are subject to dental disease, small dogs are more susceptible.

A few tips to remember when dealing with animal dental hygiene are:

>> Human toothpaste can irritate your animal's stomach.

>> Never use fluoride on a puppy six months or younger.

>> Chew toys can help remove soft tarter and strengthen teeth.

The PVMA along with the AVMA recommends regular dental check-ups and teeth brushing for your pets. For tips on how to brush your animal's teeth visit www.petdental.com.

Remember, the cost of dental disease treatments far exceed the cost of a toothbrush and toothpaste.