Monday, February 1, 2016

3 ways to celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month

Liam showing off his pretty pug smile
Most of us think of February as the month of love, and that's certainly reasonable. All the grocery store aisles are filled with chocolates and hearts, and every commercial on television seems to show a happy couple caught in mid-canoodle. But February is more than the month of St. Valentine. It's also been set aside as National Pet Dental Health Month, per the AVMA, and there are all sorts of reasons to get on board.

Consider this: The AAHA says that untreated dental disease can lead to heart problems, kidney problems and lung disease. Even so, two-thirds of people with pets don't follow veterinary guidelines about oral health, the AAHA says. That means most of us are just falling down on the job.

Those of us with flat-faced breeds, like pugs and Boston terriers, need to be especially careful to follow the rules. Our dogs have teeth that don't really align, due to the foreshortening their jaws have been through. And many pugs and Bostons have terribly crooked teeth, because they are packed into jaws that are just a little too small.

That means most BTs and pugs have pretty darn serious dental health concerns. This month, you could start to turn things around. Here's how.

1. Start a tooth-brushing habit. 

In my experience, most dogs (and most cats) will accept a daily dose of tooth brushing as long as it's introduced in a slow and positive manner. Start by picking up flavorful dog toothpaste, and put a touch of it on your finger. Let your pet lick that paste, while you make a few quick swipes at the teeth. When this is easy to do (should take a few days), replace your finger with a toothbrush. After a few days, you should be able to brush the pet's teeth.

If you start this project now, you could be brushing your pet's teeth every night by the time this dental health month is over. And that could be a great way to celebrate.

2. Load up on dental toys. 

Brushing teeth is the best way to help prevent a dental issue. But the right toys can help, too. Dental toys like this one have a lot of nubby bits, and they're really fun to chew on. After a long chewing session, some of that dried-on plaque might be a bit broken up, and that might make it easier for you to brush away with your toothbrush.
Sinead with her dental dog toy

 3. Consult with your veterinarian. 

Many veterinary clinics have special pricing on dental procedures during the month of February, which could allow you to get that spendy work your pet needs without breaking the bank in the process. You'll need to make an appointment to take advantage, but it could be a great option to help your pet have a healthier mouth.

So what do you say? How are you planning to celebrate this month?


  1. Both of our dogs, Ruby and Pip (who passed away a few years ago) had dental issues. Both were adopted in mid-life and because of poor care in their early years had lots of dental issues. Ruby will be having a dental in a few weeks.

    1. Best of luck to Ruby! Here's hoping she gets to keep all of her teeth. My last rescue, Troy, lost many of his during his dental. Poor early dental care can really take a toll.