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February is Pet Dental Health Month

Does your dog have bad breath? Are his teeth stained yellow and brown?

Those could be early warning signs of dental disease, one of the biggest health problems affecting pets today. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop gingivitis or periodontal disease by age three.

Fortunately, oral disease is preventable, so don’t wait to start a regular dental care regimen with your pet.

  • Visit the vet — Be sure your pet receives an oral exam during his regular veterinary health check-up. Your vet can assess the condition of your pet’s teeth and gums. You made need to start with a professional cleaning if your pet’s dental condition has deteriorated.

In between, there are several things that you can do at home to improve and maintain your pet’s dental health.

  • Brush regularly – It’s important to brush your pet’s teeth often — at least every few days — so plaque doesn’t form. He may balk at first, so be persistent until he is accustomed to the routine. Keep sessions short, be gentle, and offer plenty of praise.

  • Use pet toothpaste – Never use “human” toothpaste on your pet; it can cause serious stomach upset.  Purchase a toothpaste formulated for pets (it’s safe to swallow and flavored to appeal to your pet) and use only a very small amount.

  • Add healthy food and treats – Some pet foods are now formulated to combat plaque and tartar build-up and have been proven to be a highly effective oral health tool. There are also tartar control biscuits, bones, and treats that, with regular use, can help reduce tartar buildup above the gum-line.

Taking a little extra time on a regular basis to care for your dog’s teeth will assure good dental health and prevent serious dental and medical problems. For more information, visit