Pets At Risk: Bad
Breath Isn't Funny Anymore
Frisco caught the guest
by surprise in the living room. He planted a big, breathy smooch
on her face. "Ugh! Dog breath!" The room erupted in laughter.
It wasn't so funny the
next day when Frisco had his yearly check-up. The 2-˝-year-old
dog was diagnosed with gum disease, and he was in danger of
losing a tooth if he didn't begin a regular dental care program.
According to the
American Veterinary Dental Society, Frisco's case is not unique.
Studies show that more than 80 percent of dogs by age three and
70 percent of cats by age three show some signs of gum disease.
Bad breath could be an early warning sign of the dangerous gum
Pets Need Dental Care,
Pet owners are
reminded that dogs and cats need good oral care. An educational
campaign to consumers, sponsored by the American Veterinary
Medical Association and the American Veterinary Dental Society
with an educational grant provided by Hill's Pet Nutrition,
Inc., helps pet owners understand the importance of regular
dental care for their pets.
Particularly at risk
are small dog breeds, such as Pekingese and Shihtzu. Experts say
these breeds are more likely to develop tooth problems because
their teeth are crowded into small mouths. This can create a
haven for plaque buildup.
Cervical line lesions
(CLL) are the most common dental disease of domestic cats.
Studies show that about 28 percent of domestic cats that
veterinarians examine have CLL. Because the lesions often begin
beneath the gumline, owners usually are unaware that there is a
problem until the tooth is seriously damaged.
Prevention is the key to helping pets maintain good oral health.
The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends that pet
owners follow three important steps:
- Visit Your
Just as dental visits
are the cornerstone of a human dental program, visiting a
veterinarian is the key to ensuring the health of your pet's
teeth. A veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical
examination of your pet as part of the dental evaluation.
- Start a dental care
routine at home
regularly from your pet's teeth should be part of your pet's
home dental care routine. Ask your veterinarian about the
procedure for brushing your pet's teeth. Dog owners also may
feed specially formulated dietary foods that help reduce the
accumulation of plaque and tartar from teeth when the pet
eats. Your veterinarian can offer more information on dietary
- Get Regular
Veterinary Dental Checkups
veterinarian needs to monitor the progress of your pet's
preventive dental care routine much the same way a dentist
monitors your teeth. Regular dental check-ups are essential.
Once a pet's teeth
display the warning signs — bad breath, a yellow brown crust of
tartar around the gumline, pain or bleeding when the pet eats or
when you touch its gums — gum disease may already be present.
For a professional dental check-up, call your veterinarian
Cold Weather Pet Safety Tips
As the weather turns colder, and we begin to bundle up for
winter, it is important to keep in mind the little ones on our
families that will need some extra attention. Below are some
winter pet tips to make sure your furry family members are just as
warm and cozy as you are.
1. Do not allow your animals unsupervised access to the outside
after dark. If you have dogs, accompany them outside at night to
do their business, but do not let them hang out there too long. If
you have outdoor cats, watch that they are in the house before it
gets dark, or if the weather is too cold during the day, keep them
2. Sometimes outdoor cats will seek the warm solace of a parked
car engine. If you have outdoor cats in your neighborhood, bang on
you car hood to make sure there are no cats sleeping inside before
you start your engine.
3. Always have your pet’s collar and ID on them. If you live
where it snows, it can be harder for your animal to find the
familiar scents they are use to and it may cause them to not be
able to make their way back home. According to the ASPCA, “more
dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season”
based on this factor.
4. After being outside or on walks, make sure to thoroughly
clean your pet so the salt or other chemicals in the snow do not
get ingested by the animal. Also be aware of your animal’s paws
while walking in snow. Get a set of snow shoes for them so they do
not get frost bite.
5. Be aware of their coats. Giving your dog a shave in January
is not a good idea! If your dog’s coat is lacking in warmth or
length, or you own a small dog or cat with little body fat, invest
in a pet sweater or coat to give them extra protection.
6. As in the summer, do not leave your dog in the car. Extreme
weather outside, leads to extreme weather inside a vehicle. Your
pet would rather wait for you at home while being warm rather than
enjoy a car ride that leaves ‘um shivering.
7. Keep all chemicals out of the reach of animals!! Antifreeze
is poison to your pets, and many of them are very attracted to the
taste. Make sure to clean up any spills or leaks coming from your
vehicle immediately. For more information, visit the
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
8. Make sure your pets have warm places to sleep and are out of
the way of drafts. Pet beds, blankets or a warm human to cuddle
with are great ways for your pets to sleep at night.