February is the month of love, and what good is love if it isn’t celebrated with lots of hugs and kisses?  Perhaps this is why February is also Pet Dental Health Month! – No one likes to cuddle up with a bad-breath pal!  But more than a case of stinky dog breath, good dental care is essential to your pet’s overall health.  This week, Wisconsin Pet Care will focus on what steps you can take to keep your furry friend’s pearly whites in tip-top shape!


Why is dental health so important?


As with human medical studies, similar results were found for dogs and cats: Dental health is important because it plays a vital role in the prevention of bodily disease. and infection.  In fact, many of the dental concerns that you face are the same for your pet: Periodontal disease, halitosis, gingivitis, and gum disease – are all preventable and treatable conditions.  If left untreated, however, there may be repercussions to the wellness of your dog or cat.


What steps can you take to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy?


*Brush their teeth twice a week.  It seems like it will be tricky to get your pet in the habit of allowing you to brush their teeth.  However, if you slowly introduce the concept and keep a routine schedule, it will soon come as second nature to them.  In fact, I’ve seen cats who take the cue from their owners – as soon as they bring out their own toothbrush in the morning, kitty jumps up on the sink to await her turn.  Find out what they like, (a regular toothbrush vs. a finger brush / toothpaste vs. no toothpaste) and make the task as enjoyable as possible.  This is one of the best actions you can take in the fight against plaque and tartar buildup.


*Do an at-home dental check-up once a month.  According to the ASPCA, bad breath, excessive drooling, inflamed gums and loose teeth are all signs of dental issues for your dog or cat.   Routine checking for these issues can help remedy problems quickly and lower the impact on your pet’s health.


*Chew toys: Not only do they fulfill your pup’s natural desire to chomp, but they also relieve stress and tension.  As an added bonus, they help scrape away the soft tartar buildup.  It’s a win-win!  Cats also have a line of chew toys, most featuring mint-flavored mesh that accomplishes the same tartar control (mint is a cousin to catnip and most kitties LOVE the taste of it!).


*As always, it all comes down to nutrition.  You’ve heard us say it a billion times, but feeding your dog or cat quality food is a great way to keep plaque and tartar at bay!


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but what if your pet already has severe dental damage?  Seek veterinary care…BEFORE the problem gets worse.  Clean teeth are important and your veterinarian will help you solve the current dental issue, as well as lay out a plan for future preventive care.


Does your dog or cat look forward to getting their teeth brushed?  If so, what are some of your tips to ease pets into the routine?