Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | February 27, 2008

Oral Health for Pets



Missy Messy Mouth
Missy Messy Mouth

Hi, my name is Missy a.k.a. “the cutest little Terrier looking for a forever home”.  As you can see by my photo I have a few dental issues, which is why I was selected to write this week’s Second Chance Pet Column highlighting National Pet Dental Month.  My friends here at Second Chance are working on getting my teeth taken care of – in fact by the time this column goes to press I am should have a brand new smile. 

But did you know that, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the time they’re three years old, which can lead to serious health problems. 

Here are some AVMA tips and information on how to keep your pet’s teeth healthy:

  • Look for signs of tooth decay and oral disease by inspecting your pet’s teeth regularly. Bad breath, discoloration and tartar are all indications of problems.
  • Regular visits to your veterinarian should include a complete checkup of your pet’s teeth and gums. Your veterinarian should clean plaque and tartar off your pet’s teeth if necessary. When tartar-created by the mixture of food debris, saliva and bacteria in the mouth-is allowed to build up it can accumulate between teeth and gums causing tooth loss, and result in an infection that could enter the bloodstream and spread to the heart or other internal organs.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth daily or at least weekly. While most dogs or cats will not immediately accept a dental hygiene regimen, it can be successfully introduced with patience, particularly if you start when the pet is young.
  • To acclimate your pet to dental health, start slowly using plenty of praise and treats. Begin at a time when your pet is relaxed and massage the outside of their mouth with your finger. Then give them a taste of pet toothpaste-poultry-flavored is the most popular-and then slowly introduce a toothbrush to their teeth. Begin brushing in short intervals, working up to about 30 seconds a side.
  • Dogs don’t accumulate as much tartar on the outside of their teeth as they do the inside, so focus your dental hygiene attention there.
  • Feed your dog or cat crunchy food, or at least a mix of hard and soft foods. The abrasive texture of kibble can help keep teeth clean, while soft food can cling to your pet’s teeth and lead to decay. Also consider crunchy treats, which also help clean teeth.
  • Chew toys for dogs and rope toys that cats can chew are not only immensely entertaining for your pet, but also keep teeth clean and breath smelling fresh.

For more information on pet dental health, visit the Pet Dental Web site at

And of course I can’t end the column without sharing how excited I am for the upcoming Wine & Whiskers Carneval on March 8th in Ridgway.  I am hoping for a spot in the Fashion Show – with my beautiful new smile and my prancing walk that I love to show off, the lights, the makeup, the strutting, I was born for this stuff!  Although dogs with homes are not invited to this event (but are always invited to the Second Chance Fur Ball on July 5th in Telluride) – you just might see a few beautiful yet homeless pups like me on the fashion runway next Saturday night…

Call the Second Chance Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter Voucher Program, Volunteer & Foster Care, or other pet questions.  For more information on SCHS, or to visit our shelter pets online, go to:  Responses or question regarding a Pet Column can be sent to:




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