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Keeping your pet's teeth clean without spending a fortune

By Jennifer Warnick - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Periodontal disease is one of the most common health issues in pets. It can affect the animal's heart, lungs and kidneys. With a little effort you can avoid it altogether. You just have to practice daily preventative oral care at home. But most of us don't. Only one percent of pet owners brush their animal's teeth on a daily basis.

If your dog is unwilling to brush, try a dental treat. There are hundreds of treats to choose from, so how do you know if they'll be effective? 

Just like the ADA gives a seal of approval on toothpaste, the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) does the same for dog treats. It has about 2 dozen they've proven effective, but the only ones you're going to find in stores here are Greenies. 

But they are expensive. This bag of 20 was more than $20. The manufacturer suggests one a day to clean adequately, but at that rate you'll spend more than $364 a year, that's as much as a professional cleaning costs. 

"It's getting owners more involved, said Dr. Jason Hall with the Fan Veterinary Clinic. 

Dr. Hall recommends brushing, especially if your pet is still young. It gets them used to the routine of cleaning. 

"When you look on the shelves at the pet store you'll find several different toothbrushes or finger brushes," he said. 

Or a human toothbrush would do. Another trick - gauze. 

"Approach the dog from the side, lift the lip, scrub in a somewhat circular motion where the gum line meets the tooth," said Hall. 

And if this is new to you, try to do it when you're doing something else the animal enjoys. A little extra effort at home will prolong the time between dental cleanings and the life of your pet.   

For a less expensive approach, Dr. Hall says you can use VOHC approved regular food as treats, making a fifteen dollar bag of food last six months. 

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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