February Is Pet Dental Health Month

Feb 16, 2011, 11:37 ET from Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA)

HUMMELSTOWN, Pa., Feb. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dental care for pets is just as important as it is for people. Sadly, most pets across the country receive no dental care at all. February is Pet Dental Health Month to bring awareness to this growing problem and to help teach pet owners proper preventive care and what to look for when problems arise.

Surprisingly, oral disease is the most commonly diagnosed health problem in dogs and cats. By age two, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show symptoms of oral health problems, many of which are left untreated. A build-up of bacteria in the mouth combined with saliva and food residue caught between teeth and gums breeds plaque which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and tartar. Without oral care, this can turn into periodontal disease which—as in humans—can have much more serious effects on the body.

Dr. Colin Harvey, Professor of Surgery and Dentistry in the Department of Clinical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) said, "Oral health is increasingly recognized as a critical part of general health. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is very common in dogs, is more frequent and more severe in small dogs than in larger dogs, and is more of a problem in older dogs. There is now good evidence of a relationship between oral health and health of distant organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys."

Signs that your pet may already have oral disease can include bad breath, sore or bleeding gums, and yellow and brown tartar build-up. Don't wait for warning signs to arise—talk to your veterinarian today to develop an oral care regimen for your pet supplemented with regular check- ups at your veterinarian's office.

"Oral hygiene can be commenced at any time, although the earlier in life the better. Owners can brush their pet's teeth or provide a diet or treats that are effective in retarding accumulation of dental plaque and tartar. Look for the VOHC Accepted Seal to ensure that the oral hygiene products you plan to use or to recommend to your clients are effective. The real key is to stick with it; a short term flurry of activity is of little value," Dr. Harvey added.

Additional information is available online from the American Veterinary Medical Association at www.avma.org and from the Pet Dental Month website at www.petdental.com.

The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) is the only statewide professional organization of over 1,900 veterinarians from across the Commonwealth. The association, which was established in 1883, strives to advance animal welfare and human health while ensuring the vitality of the veterinary profession. PVMA's website is available at www.pavma.org.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA)