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February 14, 2014

Paw Prints: A dental pop quiz

Have you ever wondered why Fluffy’s mouth smells fishy? Or why Fido’s breath stinks? It’s probably dental disease.

That’s right. Pets have teeth, too. February is National Pet Dental Health Month. It’s a time to increase our awareness of everything that goes on in our pets’ mouths.

Just think about it. We brush and floss daily. We see our dentist every six months. Even more often, if something in our mouth hurts.

It’s easy to forget our furry friends’ pearly whites. After all, they don’t ask for their toothbrushes or point their little paws at sore teeth.

In the spirit of National Pet Dental Health Month, let’s have some fun with the following pop quiz. Answer true or false, and grade yourself at the end.

1. Puppies and kittens have one set of baby teeth before their adult teeth come in.

True. Puppies and kittens are born without teeth. Their baby teeth erupt at 1 month of age. Just three months later, their adult teeth begin to replace them.

2. If a pet is eating, his mouth doesn’t hurt.

False. This is a common misconception. Animals will eat despite significant oral pain. The drive to eat is incredibly strong and is tied to survival instinct. Pets do not know that something can be done to fix their painful mouths. So they will continue eating, until the pain is so severe that they would rather face starvation.

3. Giving a dog bones to chew will help keep his mouth healthy.

False. Bones are the No. 1 cause of fractured teeth in pets. Unless you are prepared for Fido to have multiple root canals or tooth extractions, keep bones away from him.

Some people believe they should give their dog bones because wild canines eat bones. Indeed, wild wolves do eat bones. But they also suffer from fractured, abscessed, painful teeth. And their typical life span is short, compared with that of our pet dogs.

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