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February is National Pet Dental Health Month

How much do you know about your dog's dental health? The AVMA has some tips on how to care for a dog's teeth and gums.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) created National Pet Dental Health Month to raise awareness among pet owners about the importance of checking and cleaning your dog's teeth.

The AVMA has a helpful quiz online to test what you know about pet dental health overall.

Veterinarians recommend having your dog's teeth checked annually, but if you see any of the following symptoms, you should bring your dog in to your veterinarian:

- broken teeth, or teeth that seem loose

- "extra" teeth, such as baby teeth that have not fallen out

- discolored, yellowing teeth

- bad breath

- drooling or unusual chewing behavior during meals, or dropping food while eating

- poor appetite and/or not eating at all

- pain, swelling and/or bleeding in the mouth area

- unusual behavior, such as possible aggression due to pain

Regularly brushing your dog's teeth can help prevent many problems, particularly periodontal disease. While brushing every day is the best option, brushing several times a week is also a good way to prevent oral disease. The AVMA reports that oral disease is the "most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets." Not only can oral disease affect a dog's mouth, it can also lead to negative effects on the heart, livery and kidneys due to the bacteria from the mouth entering the dog's bloodstream. Yet according to the AVMA, only approximately two percent of dog owners brush their dogs' teeth, and 65% of dogs that have periodontal disease never have it treated by a veterinarian.

If you would like to start brushing your dog's teeth but don't know where to start, the AVMA prepared a video explaining how to brush your dog (and cat's) teeth. You can visit the AVMA website for more tips on pet dental health!

Photo credit: Smiling Dog via photopin (license)


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