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Massachusetts reporter Joe Reppucci's news and resources for those who love pets
The Ruff Report: Dogs and Health
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About this blog
Joe Reppucci of Lexington, Mass., writes about dogs and keeping them a healthy part of the family. He has worked as a reporter and editor on major daily newspapers in the Boston area for more than 30 years and is a graduate of Lexington High School ...
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The Dog Blog
Joe Reppucci of Lexington, Mass., writes about dogs and keeping them a healthy part of the family. He has worked as a reporter and editor on major daily newspapers in the Boston area for more than 30 years and is a graduate of Lexington High School and of Suffolk University in Boston. He writes often about nutrition, behavior and saving money on pet supplies and insurance.
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Simple home remedy can add years to pet's life

A home remedy that costs practically nothing can lower a pet's risk of developing kidney, liver or heart problems, and it is so simple that almost anyone can administer it to their dog or cat.

 

This wondrous healing treatment is called teeth brushing.


Story continues below
 

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Story continues here

 
Oral care is one of the most neglected areas in dog and cat health, and pet advocates are urging owners to make it part of their companion's regular health maintenance.


"Many pet owners don't place as much emphasis on dental health as compared to other aspects of their pet's well being," Brent Hinton, chief executive officer of PetFirst insurance, states in a media release. "It's just as important, though, because oral disease can lead to serious health problems for both dogs and cats."


According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3.


Without proper care, plaque and tartar buildup can lead to periodontal disease, which affects the tissues and structures supporting the teeth. Left untreated, it can cause oral pain, dysfunction, tooth loss and damage the heart, liver and kidneys.


Symptoms of periodontal disease include yellow and brown tartar buildup along the gum line, inflamed gums and persistent bad breath. Common signs of oral disease include bad breath, a change in eating habits, pawing at the mouth and depression.


Hinton said the best preventative plan is to schedule regular teeth cleanings for pets and for pet owners to work with veterinarians to establish a dental-care regimen at home.


Another insurer, Veterinary Pet Insurance, reports in a media release that its policyholders spent more than $4.6 million in 2010 on dental conditions, the 10th most common type of claim submitted to the company in 2010. Claims received for preventive teeth cleaning care, on the other hand, only totaled $1.9 million.
In 2010, the average claim amount made at VPI for pet teeth cleaning was $180. In contrast, the average claim amount for treating tooth-related conditions was $233. Periodontal disease, a condition that results when a bacterial infection grows under the gum, accounted for the most dental claims received by VPI in 2010 — nearly 17,000. Abscesses were the second most common tooth-related claim. Tooth abscesses are typically the result of untreated tooth decay, cracked teeth, or severe periodontal disease. VPI received nearly 2,700 abscess claims in 2010 with an average claim amount of $220.


VPI has teamed with Iams dog food to launch the web site http://www.healthyteethforpets.com/ to provide advice about proper oral care for pets.


In a media release, Petland of Wesley Chapel, Florida, advises pet parents to regularly clean their companions' teeth. Actions owners can take to help with good dental health include:
  • Routinely inspecting your pet's teeth for signs of decay and oral disease. Bad breath, discoloration and tartar are all indications of a problem.- Brushing your pet's teeth daily or at least weekly. Toothpaste made for people must not be used for pets. A veterinarian can recommend proper pet-safe toothpaste.
  • Feeding your pet crunchy food. The abrasive texture of hard food can help keep teeth clean, while soft food can cling to a pet's teeth and lead to decay. Also consider crunchy treats, which help clean pet’s teeth.


Related report about dogs and oral health:

The stinking truth behind smelly dog breath



More reports about dogs and health:

Try this fountain of youth for your pet

A wonder drug guaranteed to help your pet
 


This formula is certain to sicken your pet

Only saps let their dogs play fetch with sticks


For pets, there's a rash of trouble in the air

Alarming rise in heartworm a threat to pets 


The flu bug can bite your dog, too

Purebred dogs needlessly suffering, report says

Dog heart medicine research results promising

Cushing's drug receives FDA approval

Paralyzing diseases of dogs, people linked

Warning issued about alternative medicine


 More reports about dogs and health

Reports about dogs and flea, tick control:

Pet deaths prompt tougher rules for flea, tick items

Use of flea, tick products a must despite EPA warning

Stop ticks from dogging - or killing - your pet

Your dog may have you sleeping with thousands of fleas
 


Get pets ready for invasion of blood-sucking insects

Reports about dogs and cancer:

Major breakthrough in canine cancer treatment

First-ever canine cancer drug developed

Making strides in fight against canine cancer

Worldwide effort to cure canine cancer


  • Giving pets chew toys because they help keep teeth clean and breath smelling fresh.
  • Having a veterinarian periodically clean your pet’s teeth to remove any plaque or tartar.
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