Spokane veterinarian stresses importance of brushing your pet’s teeth

SPOKANE, Wash. — Pet owners often do everything they can to keep their furry friends healthy but a Spokane veterinarian said an important task is often ignored.

Dogs and cats who don’t get their teeth brushed can develop many different health problems just like their human counterparts.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association , periodental disease is the most common dental disease among dogs and cats. Pets are more likely to get this when the disease when they reach age 3.

This disease and many others can be harmful to pets’ mouths, but it can also lead to kidney, liver and heart problems.

"[They can] get abscessed teeth, [they] get teeth that are mobile, and abscessed teeth are painful and our pets aren’t all that good at showing us how much pain it is," said Dr. Greg Benoit with the Southcare Animal Medical Center.

"If [they] build up enough bacteria in [their] mouth, and the mouth and the gums have a lot of blood circulation, that has far-reaching implications potentially throughout the body and the heart, and the liver and the kidneys all can be affected," Benoit added.

Dogs and cats should have their teeth and gums checked at least once a year by a local veterinarian, but it’s up to owners to keep their pet’s teeth clean. That is often easier said that done.

Benoit has some tips for people who struggle with brushing their pet’s teeth:

> Have patience.

Make it fun for pets.

Try adding peanut butter or something the pet likes to the toothbrush first to get them used to the sensation.

Ease in with a few strokes.

Reward dogs or cats with dental approved treats after brushing their teeth.

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