5 Ways to Celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month

​​​February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Pet dental care is important because, like with humans, once a tooth has been pulled or lost, it is gone forever. Periodontal disease affects over 85% of cats and dogs that are four years or older. This problem can be avoided by providing regular dental care and daily cleanings. Here are five ways you can celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month this February.

Start by taking your pet to the veterinarian for a dental exam. Watch as the veterinarian lifts your pet's gums and checks for dental problems along the gum line. Your vet may need to clean plaque and tartar off your dog's teeth to help prevent oral disease. Ask for tips on caring for your pet's teeth before you leave.

Buy your pet a toothbrush and toothpaste. Make sure the type of toothpaste you buy is formulated for the type of animal you have. My dog isn't very picky about flavor, but my cat refuses to let me near her with anything but poultry flavored paste. Figure out what your pet likes. Also, a "finger brush" might help with brushing your pet's teeth, since it fits right over your finger and is easier to control.

Continue with brushing your pet's teeth regularly. If you have never brushed your pet's teeth, begin by placing a drop of toothpaste onto your finger. Let your pet smell it and lick it off each day for the next week. Over the second week, use your finger to brush the paste onto your pet's teeth. The third week, put toothpaste onto the toothbrush and begin by letting your pet lick it off. Hopefully, you will eventually be able to brush your pet's teeth with the toothbrush.

Examine your pet's diet. What kind of food does your pet eat: Is it mostly dry kibble, or is it mainly a soft diet? Dry kibble is better for your pet's dental health, since it helps to clean plaque from the teeth. Wet, canned food does nothing for the teeth and can even cause bad breath. Unless your pet needs to eat canned food for some reason, it should be saved as a special treat.

Reward your pet with a dental gift. Certain toys and treats can help clean your pet's teeth, making your job a lot easier. Look for ropes, rawhides, and dental sticks to help scrape that plaque away and freshen ol' Spot's breath.​