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Pet Dental Care

Martha Stewart Living Television

Most of us try to keep our teeth and gums healthy with daily brushing, flossing, and regular trips to the dentist. But did you know that our pets also need to have their teeth cared for? According to veterinary dentist Rick McFarland, you should brush your pet's teeth as often as you can -- every day, if possible -- and start having his or her teeth cleaned professionally at age 1. Some vets recommend a yearly cleaning, but if your pet has good teeth, it may be less frequent.

Just like humans, animals are subject to plaque buildup and gum disease. You can check your pet for dental problems by lifting the lip to see if the teeth are discolored or the gums are red and inflamed. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, favoring one side of the mouth, spitting out food, eating more slowly, and swollen cheeks.

A number of companies make toys and treats that help to keep a pet's teeth clean, such as Virbac, Greenies, and Kong. Hills' Prescription Diet t/d for cats and dogs also promote dental health. Remember that dry foods are better than wet ones in fighting tooth decay.

Resources
Learn more about Dr. Richard McFarland and the Norwalk Animal Hospital and Dental Clinic.