Don't Ignore "Doggy Breath," Cautions Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital

PORTLAND, Ore., March 8, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital is reminding pet owners that "doggy breath" could actually be a sign of gum disease and that ignoring this symptom could lead to serious health problems. Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital is joining with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) to sponsor "Pet Dental Health Month" in February and is encouraging pet owners to schedule a pet dental checkup. Additional symptoms of gum disease in pets include red swollen gums, brownish teeth, and bleeding gums.

Pet owners should not ignore the warning signs of gum disease in their pets, cautions the Portland-based Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital.

"Many pet owners assume that dealing with unpleasant doggy breath simply comes with the territory of being a pet owner," said Dr. Rick White. "However, doggy breath is actually a warning sign for oral health problems in pets. Ignoring this symptom can lead to serious problems like bacterial infections that are both painful for pets and expensive to treat."

In addition to doggy breath, the Portland veterinarian says that red swollen gums, bleeding from the mouth, and frequent pawing of the face are all symptoms of gum disease in pets. Pets with advanced gum disease are also reluctant to eat hard foods or play games like fetch because of increased oral sensitivity and pain.

"As humans, we brush our teeth every day – it's routine habit," said Dr. White. "But we often forget that pets need oral care, too. A dog cannot brush his own teeth after eating. As a result, food particles and bacteria will build up along the gum line and harden to form plaque and tartar. These plaque and tartar deposits cause gum disease and tooth loss."

To reduce the risk for gum disease in pets, Dr. White advises a combination of at-home brushing and regular dental checkups and cleanings.

"Effective oral care starts at home," said Dr. White. "With patience and practice, pets can become comfortable with regular brushing. We advise brushing a pet's teeth at least once per week. Always use pet-specific toothpaste and toothbrushes. Keep in mind, however, that tartar deposits can only be removed with a professional cleaning."

Dr. White recommends an annual dental checkup and cleaning. During a dental cleaning, a veterinarian will scrape away plaque and tartar deposits from the gum line. A pet's teeth are also polished creating a smooth surface, which helps resist future plaque and tartar build up.

Pets that exhibit the warning signs of gum disease need immediate dental care. Should a bacterial infection enter the blood stream through the gums, this infection can damage internal organs including the kidneys and heart.

"Prompt care is essential to treating gum disease before a pet's overall health is compromised," said Dr. White.

Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital provides wellness exams, vaccinations, and surgery.

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