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Is My Pet’s Mouth Really Cleaner Than Mine?

If you born any time before the Clinton administration, you probably remember hearing the expression “An animal’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s!”  If you’ve ever stopped to wonder whether or not this is true, allow me to clarify once and for all.

It’s not!

Spinal Tap is not a real band, there is no such thing as a jackelope, and an animal’s mouth is absolutely not cleaner than a human’s. Like humans, our pets deal with routine dental problems such as plaque, tartar, gingivitis, and tooth decay. But unlike humans, our pets don’t brush or floss on a daily basis. Left untreated, dental problems can lead to life-threatening medical conditions such as kidney disease, systemic infections, and congestive heart failure.

If you’ve never given your pet’s teeth much thought, you may want to have a look. Carefully lift the upper lift up towards his nose. If he pulls his head away, or won’t let you touch his face, do not try again. He may be experiencing pain or discomfort, and he may bite you if you inadvertently hurt him. Let your veterinarian do this for you. If your pet complies, look at the gums. They should be pink as opposed to red. Look for any chips or breaks, bearing in mind that these are not always obvious to the untrained eye.  While some light staining on the teeth is not unusual, generally speaking, the teeth should be white. Hard brown clumps mean it’s time for a cleaning. Finally, if your pet is comfortable, lean in and have a sniff. If his breath conjures images of green vapor, it’s definitely time for a trip to the vet!

And don’t look for jackelopes in the waiting room!

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