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Editor's Note February 2015 Issue

Pet Dental Health Month

The AVMA encourages owners to brush their petsí teeth to prevent disease and premature death.

It’s a cat-care routine that you’ve read about in these pages, and probably considered starting in the future more than a time or two. Brushing your cat’s teeth is important. Why not start now? Consider that more than 70 percent of cats show some sign of periodontal disease by age three!

Periodontal disease causes bad breath, gingivitis and tooth loss. Even worse, infections in the mouth can spread through the bloodstream to organs and lead to life-threatening health conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease.

A campaign sponsored by the AVMA and supported by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, Pet Dental Health Month in February is important — and even life changing for our companion animals.

Daily tooth brushing helps to keep your cat’s mouth healthy, and can help you notice problems —such as oral tumors — early enough to be treated effectively. Owners often rely on dental treats and dental diets that are marketed to help combat tartar — but veterinarians feel that brushing is simply the gold standard of dental care. Here are some pointers:

Massage and rub your cat’s cheeks to get him accustomed to having his face touched. Reward him with a small treat.

Let your cat lick the toothpaste from the toothbrush. Important: You need to select a product made especially for cats.

Hold your cat’s head in one hand, and lift the cat’s upper lip with the same hand. Tip the index finger of your other hand in water-based tuna juice and rub back and forth over the gum line. Advance to rubbing the outer surface of your cat’s teeth and gums.

Hold a soft-bristled pet toothbrush or a finger toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. Use an oval motion, or brush back and forth, for about 30 seconds.

Additionally, the AVMA offers short videos on how to brush your pet’s teeth at www.avma.org. Pet owners are encouraged to schedule veterinary appointments this month to have a dental health assessment.

By spending a few minutes each day brushing your cat’s teeth, you can help maintain his good health, prolong his life — and equally important, improve his quality of life. So start brushing!

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