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National Pet Dental Health Month

2222I'm a bit (ok, maybe more than a bit!) behind this month.  I know that February is already very close to being over.  On Monday I wrote about this month being Adopt a Rescued Rabbit month.  I don't think it so much matters what month you actually adopt, or raise awareness, in, as long as you do so when you're ready.  On the same token, your pet's dental health is something you should consider all year through, so I don't think it matters that there are only two days left in February!

I know that most people who read my blog are already amazing pet owners!  I certainly do what I can to make sure my animal companions stay happy and healthy.  But even for the best of pet owners, dental health can sometimes be all too easy to overlook.  I'm certainly guilty of slacking on keeping up with Kitsune's teeth at times.  Hey, I sometimes fall asleep at night without brushing my own teeth, let alone my dogs!  While occasionally forgetting to brush your pets teeth won't mean the end of the world, it's important to get into the habit of good oral hygiene.  Keep Fido's teeth fresh means not only a healthy mouth, but dental hygiene plays an important role in overall health as well.

You might not think that a bit of tarter on your pet's teeth is a huge deal, but did you know that dental disease, when left untreated, can lead to infections that can easily spread to your pet's organs and, worst case scenario, can lead to death.  In past years I've written about the importance of pet dental health, you can read some of my past posts on the topic here:

 

npdhm_logoI don't want to cover topics I've already gone over in previous posts, but one thing I do want to talk about is the myth that kibbled foods keep your pet's teeth clean.  Wouldn't it be nice if, instead of brushing and flossing our teeth, we could just eat a few crunchy crackers and be done with it?  Unfortunately that's not the case for humans, and it's not the case for our pets either.  Most commercial kibbles contain carbohydrates that actually feed, and thus increase, the bacteria that cause plaque.

Kibble, while crunchy, is designed to break apart quickly when your pet chomps down on it.  Because of this, it doesn't make contact with the teeth long enough to rub off any significant amounts of plaque.  If you are looking for something you can feed your pet to help his/her teeth, consider offering raw meaty bones or healthy chews.  When offering raw meaty bones, stay away from cooked bones, and the weight bearing bones of large animals (these bones are dense and have been known to chip teeth).  For commercial chews, my dog and I are both fans of Himalayan chews.

Use your best judgement when selecting chews that are appropriate for your pet.  Different dogs will do best with different types, and sizes, of chews.  Feeding a raw diet, and/or giving your dog plenty of high quality chews, won't necessarily mean that you'll be able to get away with not brushing your pet's teeth.  My Papillon loves to chew, and probably spends at least an hour a day doing so, but I still have to brush his teeth at least a couple of times a week to prevent tarter buildup, especially on his canine teeth.

I hope that everyone had an amazing February!  Post below, what do you do to maintain your pet's dental hygiene?  If the answer is nothing, remember that it's never to late to start!

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