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Periodontal disease affects up to 80 percent of cats and dogs over age 3, and can cause a host of problems, from bad breath to heart disease, says Keith Niesenbaum, a veterinarian in Garden City Park, New York. Here’s how to help:

Go au natural—with your pet’s food, that is. A homemade diet of meat and veggies is best, since it’s low in decay-causing sugar, says Will Falconer, a homeopathic vet in Austin, Texas. The next best choice? All-natural kibble that’s free of by-products and preservatives, like Wellness or Innova.

Let ‘em chew raw beef bones to help remove tartar buildup, Falconer says. Just make sure to supervise your pooch while he gnaws away to be certain he doesn’t swallow any pieces of bone.

Polish pearly whites daily, though weekly is also good. Use a soft-bristled brush for dogs, a cotton swab for cats, and a veterinary toothpaste for both, says Niesenbaum. Start by putting some paste on your finger and life your pet’s lips for a taste. Once he’s used to that, use the brush or swab for a quick sweep on each side of the mouth. Gradually build up to a full brushing session.

Reprinted from KIWI Magazine

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