Pets Need Care For Their Canines, Too
Posted February 21, 2002 2:47 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Dentists are not just for people anymore. Proper dental care is important for pets, too.
That is the point pet owners can brush up on during
National Pet Dental Health Month
"Most people don't know that 80 percent of all dogs and 70 percent of all cats over the age of 3 have some kind of oral disease," said Dr. Krista Mendoza, a veterinary dentist.
Mendoza said most oral diseases start with a buildup of bacteria in a pet's mouth and worsen if they are not treated.
"The mouth can become very inflamed, reddened. The gums become severely diseased and that bacteria can go through that diseased gum to the blood stream and travel and affect the major organs like the heart, liver and kidneys," she said.
Mendoza said that the only way to prevent these problems is to clean a pet's teeth regularly. She said that it is ideal for pet owners to brush an animal's teeth every day, but a good goal is three times a week.
Pet dental care products come in flavors like poultry and chicken to make brushing a little easier to take. Brushes come in a variety of styles and sizes.
"They have little finger brushes, real small brushes for cat's teeth that come to a point, that's smaller to get in. They make brushes with long handles and little heads," she said.
Mendoza said a sign of oral disease is bad mouth odor. She said that other indications are when a pet avoids eating or playing.
Dentists recommend starting brushing teeth when the animal is young, so that it will get used to the process, and possibly enjoy the experience.
A lot of pet insurance companies cover dental care and surgery.