February 1, 2015

Pet dental health is no joke.

About two years ago, we lost our 20- or 21-year-old cat, Mugsy, to a nasal abscess that was likely related to tooth decay and gum infection. Granted, Mugsy lived to a ripe old age but without his tooth and gum problems we may have had another year of his beloved presence in our home.

As many of you probably know, February is Pet Dental Health Month and this issue of Pet Age has some dental content to get you thinking about how you can help your customers take care of their pets’ oral hygiene.

Our cover story will give you a complete roundup on the often quite innovative dental products available for dogs and cats. Owners are no longer limited to teeth-cleaning crunchy treats or trying to wrangle a toothbrush into the mouth of a protesting pet. Those are still options, of course and they keep getting better, healthier and easier to use for the owner and more enjoyable for the pet.

When it comes to dental products, most of the focus is on dogs and cats, which only stands to reason. But, small animals also require dental care, especially the rodents and rabbits whose teeth keep growing throughout their lives. Our columnist Erik Martin discusses chew treats and dental products just for the pocket pets. He delves into all kinds of healthy and natural options for small animal chews, as well as provides some tips on selling these items.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t bring the topic around to reptiles. Dental care products for reptiles—beyond appropriate foods—are more or less nonexistent. For the most part, reptiles do not experience the same types of dental problems that mammals do. However, they can suffer from stomatitis, more descriptively known as mouth rot. This condition is best handled by a veterinarian, although many hobbyists will try to treat it themselves. I still have a scar on my finger from getting bit while swabbing out the mouth of large and irascible iguana. My hope is that in the future there will be better dental health care products for all pets.

Well, at least for the ones that have  teeth.

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