It's time to brush up on your pet's dental health care. Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets by age 3, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Kansas State University Veterinarian Marjory Artzer says getting annual dental exams and regularly brushing your pet's teeth is the best way to prevent periodontal disease. So if you don't already brush your pet's teeth, now is a good time to start.
"Go slow," Artzer advised. "Don't think just because you can pick up a toothbrush, you're going to be great right off the bat so kind of acclimate yourself and your pet to getting used to the toothbrush and the toothpaste."
She says start by putting pet toothpaste on your finger or a washcloth and wiping the animal's teeth. Then work your way up to a toothbrush. Make sure brushing their teeth goes along with something that makes their tail wag.
"I would also encourage people to couple it with something their pet enjoys so if they like to get brushed, they can brush their teeth then brush their hair or if they like to play ball, you can brush their teeth then play ball. You can give them a little treat so the pet is rewarded for allowing you to brush their teeth," she said.
Regular dental care is more than just a shiny smile. Artzer says being familiar with your pet's mouth helps you find other potential concerns like broken teeth or masses.