Top 5 reasons why February is a great month to visit the vet and 3 ways to keep Fido healthy when it’s tough to brush

Both cats and dogs can suffer from problems caused by poor dental health. Bad breath, tooth abscesses, infections in the mouth that can spread to internal organs – including the heart – are a few of the many issues that can be attributed to an unhealthy mouth. The good news is that most dental problems can be prevented before they start with at-home tooth care and routine dental cleanings at the veterinarian.

Top 5 reasons why February is a great month to visit the vet

  1. February is National Pet Dental Health Month and many veterinarians offer discounts on dental cleanings.
  2. The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3.
  3. Staying on top of preventive care like daily brushing can save you money in the future.
  4. Dental health is critical to a pet’s overall health. Keeping your pet’s teeth clean can help them live longer, healthier lives.
  5. If you are one of the lucky ones to receive a tax refund, February can be a great time to set up a veterinary care fund for your furry family members.

The Doggy Dentist: 3 ways to keep Fido healthy when it’s tough to brush

Consider this:  Even though good dental care is critical to your pet’s overall health, more than 80 percent of dogs have oral disease by age 3. But according to veterinarian Dr. Jan Bellows (who also serves as president of the American Veterinary Forum and is the former president of the American Veterinary Dental College), it doesn’t have to be this way.

Although daily brushing of a dog’s teeth should be the gold standard for all dog owners, when that isn’t practical or possible, there are great alternatives to keeping your pet’s teeth clean and healthy.

Option #1:  Use a long Q-tip
Dip a Q-tip in chicken or beef broth, or doggie-formulated toothpaste (don’t use human toothpaste because its detergent isn’t good for dogs), then, rub the Q-tip along the area where the tooth touches the gums to remove plaque.

Option #2:  Try a dental pad
Dental pads come soaked with medication to help decrease the accumulation of plaque and tartar. They help clean teeth and gums and are easier to use with dogs that actively resist having a toothbrush or any object inserted in their mouths.

Option #3:  Dental brushing chews
Turn the act of oral care into a fun and eagerly awaited moment of bonding. Dental brushing chews taste like a treat and clean like a toothbrush (mimicking the physics of a human brushing back and forth). Certain brushing chews can be as effective as brushing twice a week, based on the reduction of tartar build-up and bad breath.