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Those who love their pets tend to enjoy all animals. Our animal owners are no different. Check in on News-Herald staffers Robin Palmer and Cheryl Sadler as they share their own animal tales and announce upcoming events in Lake and Geauga counties.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pearly whites or gnarly yellows?

Ten days remain in National Pet Dental Health Month.

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

-- Sandra M. Klepach


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