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Sat, Dec. 14

Benefits of timely health care for pets outweigh costs

As with us, good health care is essential to the well-being of your animal companion. And the benefits of disease prevention for your pet(s) far outweigh the costs and results of treatment made necessary by the lack of timely health care. Regular check-ups by your veterinarian will help to ensure a long and happy lifetime for the four-legged members of your family. Professional care should not be delayed until your pet shows signs of distress. Of course, injuries are another matter, and must be dealt with immediately. However, it's easy to postpone a routine wellness check when everything appears to be going OK.

Today, we'd like to concentrate on just one important aspect of pet healthcare. It is often an area that is overlooked until serious problems begin to manifest themselves in pain, eating problems, and undesirable changes in your pet's behavior. We're talking about dental care. Oral disease is one of the most frequently diagnosed problems for pets. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, it is estimated that more than 80 percent of dogs and cats four years and older show signs of this malady. Fortunately, this condition is very responsive to proper preventative care. Also, professional treatment usually produces good results.

Preventative care includes the following measures: Regular brushing of your dog's teeth is a good habit to establish early on. Pet stores usually stock several items especially made for cleaning pets' teeth. Chew toys are also readily available that are designed to help keep teeth clean and to stimulate the gums. A good quality pet food is recommended as the exclusive diet for your pet. Premium dry pet food creates a natural cleansing action as your pet eats. People food should not be given other than on a very limited basis. Your dog or cat will almost always prefer soft cheese, cooked tidbits of meat, cookies, and other sweets to commercial pet food. Too many of these goodies will cause your four legged friend to soon turn up his nose at his regular fare, and to hold out for more of the "good" stuff from your table. In addition to causing dental problems, such treats can also lead to unhealthy weight gain that will lead to a myriad of problems not unlike those experienced by us two legged folks. Finally, just like you, your pet needs regular dental exams and teeth cleaning by a professional. The frequency of these exams will vary according to the individual needs of your pet, and can best be determined by your veterinarian.

Common indicators of oral and dental disease in animals include bad breath; distress while eating; loose or missing teeth; bleeding gums; tartar build up and discolored teeth; loss of appetite; and weight loss. Another significant sign is if your pet pulls away due to pain when you try to check her teeth. Any one of these symptoms suggests a vet visit as soon as possible. On average, tartar buildup begins to show on many pets' teeth between their second and third year. If this tartar is not removed, it can lead to inflamed, infected, and painful gums. Ultimately tooth loss results and the bacteria can spread throughout the body endangering the pet's life!

Please remember, good dental hygiene for your beloved pet(s) is critical to his/her comfort and longevity. As with us, their teeth are vital components to good overall health.

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