Pearly whites or gnarly yellows?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease -- the most frequently diagnosed health problem -- by the age of 3. Warning signs include bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, depression and pawing at the face and mouth.
Is this your pet?
Consider that nipping plaque in the bud is far more cost-effective than managing dental disease and the roaming bacteria, which may eventually threaten the heart, liver and kidneys.
To do this, sponsors recommend twice-a-year veterinary appointments and daily tooth-brushing for dogs and cats.
I don't know about you, but I kind of laughed when I heard this. Daily brushing seemed a little far-fetched to me. But a short instructional video on dental health and tooth-brushing, found here, actually makes the process look easy and now has me considering a home dental hygiene routine for my torties.
For the cynical, the video has a hint of playfulness to it: descriptions of helpful toys, beef-, mint- and chicken-flavored toothpaste, and an easy-going chihuahua that the vet holds yet never actually brushes. But seeing the gingivitis-plagued Scottish Terrier under anesthesia getting its mouth cleaned, routine for the bad cases, gave me personal incentive to keep my pets healthier.
Taking a brush to the mouth of an animal once a day may seem extreme, sure, and only 2 percent of dog owners actually follow through. But isn't your best friend worth it?
For more information, visit www.petdental.com.
-- Sandra M. Klepach