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Pet Dental Health Month Encourages Pet Owners to Brush Up on Oral Disease Prevention
AUSTIN—February marks National Pet Dental Health Month, a time to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining optimum oral health in cats and dogs for the sake of their overall health. Reliable and accurate information on pet dental health can be found on TexVetPets.org, the veterinary professional-written and peer-reviewed pet health website of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA). The website houses several articles on dental care, one of which covers common signs of dental disease and outlines a comprehensive oral care program: https://www.texvetpets.org/article/basic-dental-care-for-your-pet/.
The articles explore how poor oral health can negatively impact the rest of a pet’s body, including the heart valves, liver and kidneys. The culprit is often periodontal (gum) disease, which is one of the most common diseases in cats and dogs. By age three, most dogs and cats show signs of periodontal disease, according to the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC).
“Periodontal disease involves bacteria that can cause significant infection in the mouth, and this infection can impact the health of the rest of the body, from the kidneys and the heart to the liver and lungs,” said Heidi Lobprise, DVM, DAVDC, a board-certified veterinary dentist and TVMA member who practices at Main Street Veterinary Hospital in Flower Mound, Texas.
Pet owners can reduce the risk of periodontal disease by following a quality oral hygiene program, which includes taking pets for routine physical examinations, professional dental treatment and home dental care. An at-home preventative dental care regimen may include providing dental chews, water additives and specially formulated dry pet food as well brushing pets’ teeth daily with specially formulated toothpaste. TexVetPets encourages pet owners to watch this instructional video on how to brush a dog’s teeth: https://tinyurl.com/yaaseo98
“With good dental care from puppyhood or kittenhood through the senior years, you can make a difference in the quality of life for your family pet,” Dr. Lobprise said. “As a veterinary dental specialist, I believe you can even improve the lifespan of these important family members as well, keeping them around and as healthy as possible for years to come.”
About the Texas Veterinary Medical Association Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit www.tvma.org.
Even though your small breed dog might act like a big guy, he truly does have some unique nutritional needs. Here are 5 tips to help you keep your smallest BFF healthy and happy!
They eat small amounts: Small dogs may have big personalities, but they don’t have big stomachs. That means the food we feed them has to be positively packed with nutrition to get them all the vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates they need to maintain their busy schedules. Since they need to consume large qualities in relation to their body weight, they require small meals, several times a day.
They need smaller pieces of food: Their mouths are obviously smaller than their larger counterparts, so they need smaller bites to accommodate. Look for a food that is customizable for their bite size or already comes in smaller bites for their little mouths. When you choose your dog food, keep an eye out for products specifically made for them. I like to use Freshpet Select grain free bite sized morsels – they are fresh real foods in the perfect size.
They are prone to becoming overweight: We love to carry around our little pups, so often they don’t get the exercise that they need to burn off the calories they’re consuming…especially when Mom and Dad give them treats all day just for being so darn cute! So even though it may look like a tiny amount, make sure you’re feeding them just enough calories to maintain their optimal weight. For a small breed dog, even one or two pounds can be devastating to their little joints and set them up for arthritis, heart disease and even a greater risk of cancer in the future.
They grow up faster than larger breeds: Small dogs grow faster than large breed dogs reaching maturity at a younger age, usually long before their first birthday. They also have a faster metabolism compared to large breed dogs which mean that small breed dogs have a higher caloric requirement per pound of body weight than their larger cousins. It also means that more protein and fats in the diet are necessary for optimal health.
They are prone to dental disease: Even if you feed a hard kibble to your small breed pup, you still need to engage in proper dental hygiene. Talk with your veterinarian about which toothpaste and brush combo they recommend, and how often you should be brushing your pup’s teeth. A minimum of three times weekly has been shown to prevent tartar buildup and ward off gingivitis.
Dr. Katy Nelson is the host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington, D.C.’s news channel 8. She is the medical director of Pet Health for Stop Aging Now, a leading nutrition and lifestyle company that relies on the latest clinical research to guide them in their efforts to help people and pets. She is also an Ambassador for Freshpet, fresh pet food company that can be found in your pet food aisle in its own refrigerator. She is a Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVJ) accredited by The American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ) and is passionate about health and fitness, striving to help dogs and cats to live the longest, fullest life that they can lead by staying fit and trim.
Freshpet has a single-minded mission – to improve the lives of dogs and cats everywhere through the power of fresh, natural food. Packed with vitamins and proteins, Freshpet foods offer fresh meats, poultry and vegetables farmed locally. The Freshpet Kitchens then thoughtfully prepare these natural ingredients and everyday essentials, cooking them in small batches at lower temperatures to preserve key nutrients. That way, your pet gets the best. Freshpet refrigerated foods and treats are kept cool from the moment they are made until they arrive at Freshpet refrigerators in your local store.
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