Give your pet the perfect valentine -- a healthy smile
(ARA) - What's a great Valentine's Day present for your pet? Candy is definitely out -- chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats, and hard candy can cause bowel obstructions. Ditto with flowers -- many are poisonous to cats and dogs. Instead, why not give your pet a healthy smile?
February isn't just the month celebrating Valentine's Day, it's also National Pet Dental Health Month. While the American Dental Association estimates that about 80 percent of us brush our own teeth at least twice a day, most of us completely neglect our pets' teeth. The fact is, animals have teeth that must be maintained, just like our own teeth. And just like us, dogs and cats can suffer with gingivitis or periodontal disease.
"There are many symptoms of dental disease to watch out for, including bad, almost putrid, breath," explains Dr. James Cook, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. "Your pet could be in a lot of pain, and you might not realize it. For example, if you see your pet approach a bowl of food then back away, that could be a sign of tooth pain. Your animal can't tell you he or she is suffering or in pain, so it's important to get your pet's teeth checked by your veterinarian."
Here are six Valentines to give your pet during Pet Dental Health Month:
* Brush their teeth.
Specially made toothpaste in flavors like chicken, seafood, beef and mint and soft, pet-friendly toothbrushes are available at pet supply stores or from your veterinarian. With some training (visit www.avmatv.com for a 5.5 minute instructional video) pets can learn to tolerate or even enjoy a daily brushing.
* A dental checkup.
If you've never had your veterinarian check your pet's teeth, your pet is long overdue. Schedule an appointment today. Veterinarians recommend at least an annual checkup of your pet's teeth. If periodontal disease is found, your pet can be sedated for teeth cleaning.
* Give a rawhide treat.
Rawhide is that piece of raw leather your dog looks forward to so much, but it also helps scrub plaque off your pet's teeth. A small daily treat that makes a dog so happy could save money at the veterinarian years from now and save your dog's teeth. Check with your veterinarian to make sure rawhide is an appropriate treat for your dog.
* Wrap up a rope toy.
Rope toys for dogs and cats help keep plaque and gingivitis at bay. Just carrying a rope toy in their mouth helps to keep an animal's teeth clean, and playing with it does an even better job.
* Try dental treats.
Specially made dental treats are available at pet stores and at your veterinarian's office. These treats are made to be difficult to chew and swallow, and are shaped to help scrub teeth as they're consumed.
* A pet food present.
Consider feeding your pet a specially formulated pet food designed to improve dental health in pets.
For information on pet dental health visit www.avma.org or www.avmatv.com.