It’s Pet Dental Month! The Importance of Caring for Your Pet’s Teeth
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and if you’re wondering why there’s an entire month about pets and their teeth, read on.
As it is with humans, dental health in pets is important for overall health. When it goes unchecked it can cause serious health problems all around. It is recommended that you have your veterinarian check your pet’s teeth and gums on a yearly basis as a preventative measure and to check for any problems.
“Dog dental disease has serious consequences, so maintaining good dog dental care is very important,” according to the article, “5 Reasons Why Dog Dental Care Is Important” at PetMD.com. It affects teeth, gums as well as structures around your dog’s teeth and starts with the buildup of plaque, which contains bacteria.
“Plaque that stays on the teeth hardens into tartar,” the article said. “When tartar is above the gumline, it’s easily visible, and your veterinarian can remove it relatively easily during a professional dental cleaning.” However, tartar below the gums is what can be very dangerous and cause infection.
According to the article, “Pet dental care” at American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), some signs that your pet has serious issues with his teeth include:
• Bad breath
• Loose or broken teeth
• Discolored teeth or lots of tartar
• Loss of appetite
• Pain around the mouth
The most common dental issue in dogs and cats is periodontal disease, which can occur by the time your pet is around 3 years old. The condition will only get worse as your pet gets older if nothing is done.
“Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth,” the AVMA article said. “Other health problems found in association with periodontal disease include kidney, liver, and heart muscle changes.”
So, make that appointment to get your pet’s teeth checked.
How to Keep Your High-Anxiety Pet Busy While You’re Not Home
You love your dog but he has separation anxiety, so leaving your house gives you anxiety too. What can you do to help your dog for those times you’re out of the house?
There are dogs who, when left alone, become extremely destructive, destroying household items and even worse. Some start to become nervous even before you leave.
According to the article, “Does your dog freak out when you leave?” at The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), some of the ways dogs show behavior issues include:
• Howling, whining, and barking
• Destructively chewing
• Scratching and digging
• Urinating or defecating in the home
“It’s not fully understood why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and others don’t,” the HSUS article said. “But remember, your dog’s behaviors are part of a panic response.”
There are a variety of reasons why a dog has high-anxiety when separated from their owner. According to the article, “How to Ease Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety,” at Fetch by WebMD, some reasons a dog may act this way include:
• Being left alone for the first time
• Ownership change
• A move from a shelter to a home
• Routine change
First discuss with your vet to rule out medical issues. For mild separation anxiety there are a few things you can do. “Give your dog a special treat each time you leave (like a puzzle toy stuffed with peanut butter),” the Fetch article said. “Only give them this treat when you’re gone, and take it away when you get home.” You can also try to be low key about when you leave and come home. “Ignore your pup for the first few minutes after you get home,” the Fetch article said. You can also leave clothes or another item that smells like you or try over-the-counter natural calming supplements.
Tips on Caring for Your Senior Pet’s Health
From their health care to playtime, things change as pets get older. Know what to expect so you can prepare and give your pet the best senior life possible.
According to the article, “Senior Pets,” at American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “While it’s easy to spot the outward signs of aging such as graying haircoat and slower pace, it’s important to remember a pet’s organ systems are also changing.” Senior pets are more susceptible to heart, kidney, and liver disease as well as arthritis or cancer. “Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats have a somewhat lower rate.”
Many older pets lose sight and hearing as humans do, and some get cataracts. Behavior changes can also be a sign of aging in pets. “Some behavior changes in older pets may be due to cognitive dysfunction, which is similar to senility in people,” the AVMA article said. Changes can include:
• Anxiety, nervousness
• Accidents in the home
• Little interest in playing
• Grouchy, irritable
“Your dog may develop arthritis or other degenerative diseases that cause him to slow down,” according to the article, “Tips for Caring for Senior Dogs” at PetMD.com. You may find that your dog cannot walk or play for long or that he gets tired faster. He also may have trouble with stairs.
The PetMD article offers some tips, including:
• Ger regular vet checkups.
• Get a body condition evaluation to find out if your dog is at the proper weight.
• Feed a high quality diet.
• Brush your dog’s teeth for good dental health.
• Exercise your dog.
• Keep your dog stimulated with toys.
• Provide soft bedding, ramps to make stairs easier, and carpet for slippery floors.
Senior pets can have fulfilling lives. Be sure to be by their side every step of the way.