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Remember Your Pet’s Oral Health During National Pet Dental Health Month

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has chosen the month of February for its National Pet Dental Health Month campaign to promote awareness of the importance of taking care of your pet’s teeth. Unfortunately, many pet owners do not think about their pets’ dental health until they notice that their dog or cat has bad breath, which is a sign of teeth and gum problems. Taking good care of your pet’s dental health is essential because, just like us humans, tooth decay and gum disease can lead to problems in the overall health of your dog or cat. Not only should you brush your pet’s teeth at least a couple of times a week, but you should also schedule a veterinary cleaning once a year. This month is the perfect time to make this appointment, and you can count on our staff at 5 Points Animal Hospital to properly clean your pets’ teeth and gums. We would like to tell you a bit more about the importance of good oral health habits for your pets.

What can I expect from a veterinary cleaning?Remember Your Pets Oral Health During National Pet Dental Month Image - Nashville TN - Five Points Animal Hospital

A dental cleaning appointment with our veterinarians will include cleaning, adjusting, filing, extracting, or repairing your dog or cat’s teeth. First, your pet will get an oral exam, and if we find problems, we can perform an x-ray to examine the condition of the jaw and the roots of the teeth below the gum line. This x-ray is important because most dental diseases are located in this area, which cannot be easily seen. In order to keep this area healthy, we will conduct a thorough dental cleaning that includes scaling to get rid of any plaque and tartar. In order to keep your pet comfortable while we are cleaning his teeth and gums, we use anesthesia during this procedure. While anesthesia can be risky, we take great care to ensure your pet’s safety. Our staff will discuss the effects of anesthesia with you before the cleaning, and we will be available to you if you notice any problems after taking your pet home after the procedure.

What are the signs of pet dental problems?

Of course, you should have your pet’s teeth cleaned once a year, but if you notice any of the following signs of dental problems, please contact our office as soon as possible. According to the AVMA, these signs include bad breath, broken or loose teeth, stained teeth, problems with chewing food, refusal to eat, bleeding in the mouth, and swelling in the mouth and surrounding areas.

What sort of dental health problems can my pet have?

Your pet can suffer from the same oral health issues as humans can. While pets do not seem to get as many cavities, they can develop abscesses and infections, cysts or tumors, misaligned teeth, defects of the palates, and periodontal disease.

Besides the annual veterinary cleanings, what else can I do to prevent pet oral health problems?

Frequently removing the plaque and tartar that builds up on your pet’s teeth is the most important preventive measure you can do at home. 5 Points Animal Hospital recommends that you brush your pet’s teeth every day, but we understand this is not always possible. Brushing your pet’s teeth several times a week can be just as helpful in preventing problems.

Keep your pet’s mouth healthy by scheduling a veterinary cleaning appointment this month. Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital for more details as well as suggestions for pet dental products and treats.

Unexpected Ways You Could Be Hurting Your Dog or Cat

You love your pets and go above and beyond to spoil them. You may, however, be inadvertently doing more harm than good depending on your chosen methods. Do any of the following apply to you?

Are You Hurting Your Pet? - Nashville TN - 5 Points

  • You feed your pet from the table
  • You’re using the wrong collar or the wrong size collar
  • You don’t take care of your pet’s teeth
  • You leave food out all of the time
  • You let your pet be a couch potato
  • You feed your pet a vegan diet
  • You don’t take your pet to the vet for annual exams
  • You don’t secure your pet when you’re in the car
  • You feed your pet real bones
  • You yell at your pet when he or she does something wrong

If you answered yes to any of the above-listed scenarios, it’s not the end of the world. Your pet, more likely than not, hasn’t been irreparably harmed by it. However, if you continue on this path knowing that you’re harming your pet, things can worsen quickly and you could be at the point of no return in no time.

It’s Time to Eat

Feeding your pets from the table can lead to severe health problems such as diarrhea, vomiting, and pancreatitis. There are several people foods—raisins, grapes, onions, cooked bones, chocolate, etc.—that are highly toxic to our pets as well. Pets that are fed table scraps may also start refusing to eat their regular food.

Just as feeding your pets table scraps can be harmful, so too can feeding them a vegan diet. This is especially true in cats, as they are what are referred to as obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat to survive. This is because the protein in animal tissue has a complete amino acid profile; amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Plant proteins don’t contain all the amino acids critical for the health of obligate carnivores. They cannot digest plant-based foods efficiently, nor do plant-based foods provide the nutrients felines require.

Leaving food out all of the time—commonly referred to as free-feeding—can do a tremendous disservice to your pets. This might be what is easiest for your schedule; however, it is the worst for your pet’s health. Pets that are free fed are at high risk for becoming overweight. Who hasn’t snacked when bored, even if you’re not hungry at all? Our pets will do the same thing! Leaving food out all of the time isn’t very sanitary either. The food becomes an invitation for insects, rodents, bacteria, and who knows what else to come into your home.

The Pet Nutrition Alliance is a great resource for learning about what to feed your pet.

Treat Your Pets Right

Allowing your pets to become couch potatoes is along the lines of leaving food out all the time. You’re inviting them to become overweight. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can lead to future health problems for your pets and increased vet bills for you.

Using the wrong collar or the wrong size collar can hurt your dog’s throat. The best way to avoid injury, as far as many breeds are concerned, is to opt for a harness rather than a collar, as it takes some of the pressure off of the dog’s trachea and more evenly distributes the force exerted as a result of your dog pulling too hard or too abruptly.

Not securing your pet while in the vehicle can be dangerous for you and for them. If you were to get into an accident, your pet could be injured very easily. If your pet is loose in the car, they could get excited and distract you in various ways, thereby leading to an accident that could injure both of you.

Yelling at your pet when they do something wrong can be emotionally scarring for them. This can cause irreparable damage to as far as his or her overall health is concerned and can lead to atypical behaviors that could lead to an increased chance of injury.

Not taking care of your pet’s teeth and/or not taking him or her to the vet on an annual basis could greatly increase the chances of illness. This can also result in small issues becoming larger ones due to them not being treated in a timely manner. You wouldn’t skip going to the doctor or brushing your children’s teeth, so why would you avoid these activities for your pets? Visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council for more information about dental health for your pet.

Pet owners mean well. We love our animals as if they were members of our families. We go out of our way—some more so than others—to spoil them when we feel it’s necessary. Unfortunately, the road to ruin is paved with good intentions. We encourage you to avoid these common behaviors, and, instead, spoil your pets with love and attention. Spoil them with annual visits to see us so we can love on them, too. Either way, they’ll be much better off!

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5 Points Animal Hospital | 1103 Woodland St., Nashville, TN 37206 | Click to Call Us Now