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FAMILY MATTERS: PET ORAL HEALTH


Pet Oral HealthMy big, red dog, Astro, is kind of funny about some things.

He won’t touch a sausage link left on the kitchen counter, but he will sneak a slice of eggplant.

He likes the front yard better than the backyard, and he does NOT like to be outside if any of his people are inside.

He also doesn’t mind getting his nails clipped or his teeth brushed, which is practically unheard of in a dog of mine!

The first time I tried to brush his teeth, I was the one who was nervous. I mean, he was 85 pounds when I got him and has put on some weight since his adoption. He has a big mouth and big teeth! It’s just as important to take care of your pet’s oral health as it is your own. Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs even though it’s completely preventable. Many pets show signs of gum disease by the time they’re four years old because they aren’t provided with proper mouth care, and bad breath is often the first sign of a problem.

PetMD offers these tips for good oral health for your pets.

1. The Breath Test

Sniff your pet’s breath. Not a field of lilies? That’s okay-normal; pet breath isn’t particularly fresh-smelling. However, if his breath is especially offensive and is accompanied by a loss of appetite, vomiting, or excessive drinking or urinating, it’s a good idea to take your pet to the vet.

2. Lip Service

Once a week with your pet facing you, lift his lips and examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and they should show no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean without any brownish tartar.

3. Signs of Oral Disease

The following are signs that your pet may have a problem in his mouth or gastrointestinal system, and your pet should be checked by a veterinarian:

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inflamed gums
  • Tumors in the gums
  • Cysts under the tongue
  • Loose teeth

4. The Lowdown on Tooth Decay

Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause build-up on your pet’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. One solution? Regular teeth cleanings, of course.

5. Teeth-Brushing Kit

Get a toothbrush made especially for your pet or a clean piece of soft gauze to wrap around your finger. Ask your vet for toothpaste made especially for your pet or make a paste out of baking soda and water. Please do not use human toothpaste, which can irritate their stomach. Special mouthwash for dogs and cats is also available – ask your vet.


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