Having puppy breath may still be OK if you're truly a puppy.
But if your adult dog's breath smells a bit rank when he gives you a friendly lick, it may be time to start brushing Fido's teeth.
Sierra Veterinary Hospital is holding a seminar, "Your Pets Have Teeth, Too," from 7-8 p.m. Tuesday at 1477 N. Saliman Road to educate pet owners on proper dental care for their pets.
Led by Dr. Michael Chumrau and licensed veterinary technician Nancy Smith, the seminar will address common teeth- and gum-related diseases for cats and dogs.
"By far, periodontal disease is the biggest problem for pets," said Chumrau. "Eighty percent of cats and dogs over the age of 4 have some kind of periodontal disease."
Several factors can lead to the disease, such as plaque and tartar buildup. And when left untreated, can cause tissue and bone to erode.
Signs of periodontal disease include bad breath, tooth loss, drooling, difficulty eating, irritability and depression, and can lead to advanced systemic diseases.
"The key to this problem is prevention," said Chumrau. "We need to train the pet owner to care for the animal."
Chumrau said a home-care program should include inspection, brushing, chew toys, proper food, an exam by a veterinarian and professional cleaning.
Cats especially are prone to stomatitis - inflammation of the gums. Symptoms of stomatitis include bad breath, pawing at the face, drooling, pain when eating, the cat becomes lethargic, loses weight, shows aggressive behavior and reluctance toward grooming.
"You can't just look your cat's mouth and assume it's bad teeth," Chumrau said. "You need to have it checked out.
"Even we (veterinarians) can't tell. We have to anesthetize, x-ray and biopsy.
"There are specialists now for pet dental care. And it's the clients choice. We can tell them there's a problem and they can get a second opinion."
Chumrau said dental care may begin after the pet is 6 months old. The pet needs to get used to the human touching them and inspecting their mouth. Adult cats have 30 teeth; adult dogs 42.
"Daily brushing is optimum, or as often as the pet will allow," he said. "Two to three times a week would be wonderful."
Smith said soft bristle tooth brushes or finger brushes should be used.
"Soft is the key," Smith said. "You don't want to hurt their gums. And brush the outside (of their teeth and gums) only. That's important. Because a cat is going to be difficult enough, you don't want to be bit."
Animals have a special toothpaste made just for them with a proper pH. Most human toothpastes have hydrogen peroxide which is toxic to animals and will make them vomit.
Sierra Veterinary Hospital will offer tours of the recently remodeled facility after the seminar. They will also have handouts with information and products related to pet dental care.
For information, call 883-0261.
n Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1223.
If You Go
WHAT: "Your Pets Have Teeth, Too" dental seminar
WHEN: 7-8 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Sierra Veterinary Hospital, 1477 N. Saliman Road