SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS (March 27, 2024) — April is recognized every year as Healthy Pet Month by Illinois’ veterinarians, certified veterinarian technicians, and clinic practice professionals, the majority of which are members of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA).

Veterinarians always encourage pet owners to recognize the importance of proactive, preventive health-care for their beloved pet, and this year focuses on the need for regular dental-care for their furry friends.

“We brush our teeth every day, why wouldn’t we do the same for or dog or cat,” says Nicole Johnson DVM, ISVMA President, Pekin Animal Hospital, Pekin. “A pet with healthy breath is always a great thing!”

On a more serious note, Dr Johnson says that dental disease can actually lead to problems with your pet’s organs, and pets that don’t get dental-care can painfully lose their teeth.

“There’s always a risk of cavities, plaque build-up, and gum gingivitis in dogs and cats,” Dr Johnson reports. “Regularly brushing a pet’s teeth with a pet-safe toothpaste can help ensure a pet can eat properly, getting all the nutrition they need to be healthy. The plus side of brushing also means fresh breath and helps to curb drooling.”

Dr Johnson also says to avoid hard items as pet chew toys. “Bones, antlers, sticks can break or damage a pet’s teeth,” she explains. “A good guide for a safe chew is to press your fingernail into the item. If you can’t dent it with your nail, then don’t give it to your dog or cat.”

Debbie Lakamp, ISVMA Executive Director, says many veterinarians recognize Healthy Pet Month as a way to educate clients and the public about the importance of animal health-care, nutrition, safety, and, in this instance, dental-care.

“Our ISVMA member veterinarians and Certified Veterinary Technicians are practicing in every Illinois county. They are extensively medically trained in animal health and welfare,” she says. “These dedicated professionals work closely with pet owners and livestock producers to ensure their animals are healthy.”

Academic preparation for the veterinary profession takes typically four years to earn a Bachelor’s and four years of post-graduate studies to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Graduates must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination and all Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation requirements prior to practicing. State law also necessitates veterinarians enroll in forty hours of biennial medical continuing education. Veterinarians are required to understand many distinct types of animals and their physiology to be able to accurately diagnose and treat them to provide the highest level of compassionate care, whether the animals live indoors or in outdoor environments.

The ISVMA is a professional association representing more than 1,900 member veterinarians, Certified Veterinary Technicians and veterinary and technician students from around the state to promote and protect veterinary practices. ISVMA leaders and members study a multitude of innovative medical and business practices, as well as pertinent legislation to determine the impact on pets, animals, and their human caretakers.

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