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Pets Feb 11, 2014 - 4:19:23 AM

Fidelco veterinarian shares tips for Pet Dental Health Month

By Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation

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BLOOMFIELD, CT - Working dogs and pets give their human partners plenty to smile about all year round. During National Pet Dental Health Month in February, our pets’ smiles take center stage. Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation’s Dr. RuthAnn Solomon, DVM, says preventive dental care can increase your pet’s overall health and potentially decrease future veterinary bills.

“Oral health maintenance is just as important as keeping your pets’ vaccinations up to date,” says Dr. Solomon. “Periodontal disease is the most common health problem that veterinarians see in their patients, and it can lead to serious systemic conditions, but it is preventable. Great advances have been made in veterinary dentistry and there’s a wide array of options available for pet owners.”

Fidelco is Connecticut’s only guide dog school. It breeds, trains and places its own unique “breed within a breed” of German Shepherd Guide Dogs for people who are blind. The non-profit organization relies solely on the gifts and the generosity of individuals, foundations, corporations and civic organizations.

Dr. Solomon offers the following tips for pet owners:

Have your pet's teeth examined by your veterinarian during your annual visit: Early detection and correction of dental disease is best! If needed, your vet can perform a thorough dental scaling and polishing to give you a head start on developing healthy dental hygiene for your pet.

Try to brush your pet's teeth on a daily or weekly basis: The easiest way to get your pet used to regular at-home brushings is to start when they’re young. Brushing can be gradually introduced to older pets. The American Veterinary Medicine Association offers a video providing step-by-step instructions on how to brush your pet's teeth.

Never use human toothpaste on pets: The ingredients can be toxic to animals. Ask your veterinarian which dental health products are appropriate for pets. Also, dogs can’t rinse and spit like humans, so the best toothpaste for dogs is one with enzymatic action – look for the the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval.  Also, refer to the VOHC website for a list of approved products.

Pay attention to signs and symptoms of dental disease: Untreated dental infections can spread to the heart and other organs and quickly become life-threatening. Regular dental checkups are essential to help maintain your pet’s dental health. If you notice any of the symptoms below, take your pet into your veterinarian as soon as possible:

*Bad breath—If it’s beyond the usual “doggy breath,” it may be a sign that periodontal disease has already started.
*Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth.
*Reluctance to eat hard foods.
*Red swollen gums and brownish teeth.

Treats: There are some dental chews on the market that are specifically designed to help control plaque and tartar buildup. Look for dental chews accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) and ask your veterinarian if they’re right for your pet.

If you give your pet dental treats, chews, or toys: Consult with your veterinarian first to ensure they are safe and effective. Avoid toys that are abrasive and can wear down the teeth. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, choose softer toys, rawhide or other chews that soften to avoid possible tooth damage. Always supervise your dog when he is chewing on a toy.

Follow Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation on Facebook for more tips and to participate in the Pet Dental Health Month “Show Us Your Smile” photo contest!

For more information visit

About Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation

The Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Bloomfield, CT. Fidelco is an internationally accredited organization and an admired expert throughout the world for its highly valued German Shepherd Guide Dogs.

Each Fidelco Guide Dog takes two years, 15,000 hands-on hours and $45,000 to produce. They are given to clients at no cost. Fidelco provides 24/7 client support for the entire working life of its guide dogs – typically 10 years. Fidelco relies solely on the generosity and financial support of individuals, foundations, corporations and civic organizations to help Share the Vision®.

Fidelco has trained and placed over 1,350 German Shepherd Guide Dogs throughout North America – in 41 states and five Canadian provinces. Fidelco pioneered In-Community Placement in the United States — a process that allows all guide dog users to be trained in the communities where they live and work.

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