February is National Pet Dental Health Month
To address the significance of oral health care for pets, the AVMA sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month every February. Click on the links below to learn more about how you can improve the dental (and overall) health of your pets.
How much do you know about your pet’s dental health? Take our quiz to find out!
Dr. Sheldon Rubin gives easy, step-by-step instructions on how to teach a dog or cat to accept a daily tooth brushing. He also describes healthy treats, and explains the true risks of periodontal disease in pets.
Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs even though it’s completely preventable. Dr. Cindy Charlier explains what periodontal disease is and how we can prevent our pets from getting it.
Dr. Jan Bellows, a former president of the American Veterinary Dental College and owner of All Pets Dental in Weston, Fla., discussed the importance of dental health for our pets in an interview for our Animal Tracks podcast series.
February marks Pet Dental Health Month, the American Veterinary Medical Association‘s (AVMA) annual effort to remind pet lovers to care for their pets’ teeth like they do their own. “It’s estimated that by the age of two 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of periodontal disease,” explains Dr. Larry Kornegay, president of the AVMA. “Periodontal infections have been linked to diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and other life threatening disorders. During Pet Dental Health Month, the AVMA is encouraging all dog and cat owners to take steps to control plaque on their pet’s teeth and see their veterinarian for dental checkups.”
Your pet’s teeth can reveal various health issues for your dog or cat. It’s always wise to get your pet’s teeth cleaned at least once a year. This also catch oral cancer of the mouth at an early stage which can lead to a good recovery for your pet. Many times, it is the vet who find such issues with your pet upon examination or cleaning.
February is National Prevent a Litter Month
Designed to raise public awareness about the importance of spaying/neutering dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, February has been designated as National Prevent a Litter Month in order to ward off the enormous amounts of litters that arrive at animal shelters each spring.
With almost 1.5 million pets turned into U.S. animal shelters, nearly 9.6 of those animals are euthanized because of a lack space and inability to find them new homes. By educating the public on the importance of altering their companion animals, National Prevent a Litter month helps battle the problem of pet overpopulation.
As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to spay and neuter your furry family members and avoid contributing to an already overfull market of surplus animals. To help spread the word about this important awareness-raising effort, consider making a tax deductible donation to your local city animal shelter or the Doris Day Animal Foundation (www.dorisdayanimalfoundation.org).
Why We Love National Love Your Pet Day
A. They’re great listeners
It’s not often that we can find a companion willing to sit through all of our complaints, but our pets never get sick of hearing our grievances. They are also delighted to listen to our favorite anecdotes (like say, that time we adopted our cat) and will never roll their eyes when we repeat a favorite story.
B. They make you feel good
That warm feeling you get after rolling around with your dog or that sense of peace you feel when you have a cat in your lap? It’s not just a feeling, it’s science. Spending time with animals is a great way to get a boost in feel-good hormones and has even been shown to improve blood pressure.
C. They’re adorable
Just like children, everyone thinks that they’ve got the most adorable pet. It’s easy to see why, though — they’re all pretty darn cute! Lizards, hermit crabs, gerbils, cats, dogs, birds — we all need someone to love, and when that someone is a living thing that needs our care, looks don’t matter, just that they love us back.
How to Celebrate National Love Your Pet Day
1. Show your pet something new
Just like us, our pets love seeing new places! Has your dog ever been to the beach? If not, consider taking a road trip to celebrate National Love Your Pet Day. Change up the location of your fish’s bowl, take your guinea pig on a tour of the house, or take your chameleon on a field trip to the porch to feel the breeze on his face.
2. Spoil them
Let’s face it: spoiling our pets is a lot of fun. So do it! Birthdays might only come once a year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have more special days with your pets. Celebrate National Love Your Pet Day by bringing home a new treat or toy, whipping up a beloved meal, or simply spend some extra quality time with your pet (we suggest pet-themed movies as an especially nice activity).
3. Adopt a pet
The ultimate way to celebrate Love Your Pet Day is to get a pet of your own to love! If it’s within your means, consider adopting a pet in need of a home. Explore local organizations that rescue and re-home animals in your area. It’ll change your life in ways you never expected.
Why We Love National Walking the Dog Day
A. The perfect start to the day
Is there any better way to begin the day than by going on a walk with your dog? Picture a cup of coffee in your hand, your dog’s leash in the other, dew on the grass and the sun coming up over the rooftops. It’s a great way to get your blood flowing, your mind moving, and for you and your dog to get some light exercise before breakfast.
B. The best bonding exercise
Walking the dog offers an opportunity for dogs and their people to connect while exploring the neighborhood together. A dog on a walk is also a great way for humans to meet each other, and for dogs to socialize with other animals out on walks of their own.
C. A well-walked dog is a calm dog
Dogs have a lot of energy and need to exert it daily. If a dog has not been walked, he may become restless and cause chaos around the home. We love taking our dogs for as many walks as possible to ensure that their time at home is relaxing and restful.
How to Celebrate National Walking the Dog Day
1. Share a special treat
Dogs love their treats, and one special way of rewarding them on this day is by providing a unique dog snack for them during their walk. Keep some treats in your pocket for spontaneous snack breaks or reward them with a favorite snack at home.
2. Try a different trail
Dogs love exploring new terrain. If you are a city dweller, venture out to the nearest nature park, or simply try a different route than normal. Your dog will love exploring the new sights, scents, and sounds.
3. Take a walk
Don’t have a dog of your own to walk on National Walking the Dog Day? Maybe it’s time to remedy that by visiting your local animal shelter. Take some dogs in need of adoption on a stroll, or even better, ask about adopting, and enjoy walking the dog, every day.
Polar bears are large, white bears that like cold climates, fatty meals and long days of hunting. No matter how adorable polar bears look, these animals are not cuddly. In fact, polar bears are ferocious hunters, and they are the biggest carnivores among land animals.
Size & appearance
Polar bears are also the largest species of bear. For bears, height is usually measured at the shoulder when the animal is on all fours, according to Polar Bear International. On average, polar bears on all fours are 3.5 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters) tall, but when standing on its hind legs, an adult male polar bear may reach more than 10 feet (3 m). Lengthwise, they are 7.25 to 8 feet (2.2 to 2.5 m) from head to rump. Their tail adds another 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12.5 centimeters).
An adult male polar bear weighs around 775 to 1,200 lbs. (351 to 544 kilograms). The largest polar bear recorded weighed 2,209 pounds (1,000 kg), according to Polar Bear International. Females weigh half as much as their male counterparts, at only or 330 to 650 lbs. (50 to 295 kg).
Polar bears live in countries that ring the Arctic Circle: Canada, Russia, the United States (in Alaska), Greenland and Norway. In the winter, temperatures in the Arctic are usually around minus 29 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 34 degrees Celsius) and can reach as low as minus 92 F (minus 69 C). The temperature of the water is frigid, as well, reaching as low as 28 F (minus 2 C), the freezing point of seawater, according to PBS Nature.
Polar bears are excellent swimmers; their scientific name, Ursus maritimus, means “sea bear,” according to the San Diego Zoo. They use their big front feet to paddle and their back legs as rudders. These bears have been known to swim more than 60 miles (100 km) without rest. [Images: Swimming Polar Bears]
Polar bears are solitary. The animal will spend its days sitting on the ice by a seal breathing hole, waiting for one to pop up. This style of hunting is called still-hunting. Polar bears will also seek out seal lairs, crash through the roof and kill the seals inside.
Unlike other bears, polar bears do not hibernate in the winter, according to the San Diego Zoo. They continue to hunt, unless the weather is extremely cold. Then they may seek shelter in a snow den.
The polar bear’s primary food source is seals. Their diet of meat makes them carnivores. If the food supply is plentiful, they will only eat seal blubber. This high-calorie meal helps the bears build up fat reserves, which keep polar bears healthy between feedings and help maintain their body temperature. According to PBS Nature, polar bears need 4.4 lbs (2 kg) of fat each day. This is equal to about 121 lbs. of seal (55 kg) and provides about eight days’ worth of energy.
If seal hunting isn’t going well, polar bears will also eat anything they can find, such as fish, eggs, vegetation, reindeer, rodents, birds, berries and human garbage.
Females usually give birth during the months of November or December, after a gestation of eight months. In preparation, the animals dig a cave from a snow bank in which to have their cubs. This cave is called a maternity den.
A female polar bear typically gives birth to twins, though singles and triplets have been recorded. At birth, a cub weighs only 1.3 pounds (about half a kilogram), but they grow very quickly. Cubs depend on their mothers for warmth and fattening milk, which is 36 percent fat, according to the San Diego Zoo. By spring, the cubs are outside the den, exploring, and at two years of age they are fully mature. Polar bears live around 15 to 20 years.