Making Dogs Smile – Good Dental Hygiene

Taking care of your dog’s teeth is an important task in raising your pet. Tartar that builds up on their teeth can lead to periodontal disease. It starts out as bacteria and then develops into an infection that can cause tooth decay, irritated gums, and tooth loss. The disease can spread through the blood to the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Periodontal disease is the number one health problem in dogs, especially the smaller breeds. By the age of three, 80% of dogs will have symptoms of the disease. Symptoms include yellow and brown tartar buildup, inflamed gums, and bad breath. Dogs can have cavities, but this is rare since their diet isn’t high in sugars. To help prevent against periodontal disease it is important to regularly have your veterinarian check the dog’s mouth. Usually a veterinarian will look at the teeth during your dog’s annual vaccine appointment If you suspect that your dog is having problems with his or her mouth such as: extremely bad breath, not eating, or pawing at their face, take them in before their annual checkup. Your veterinarian may recommend an in-depth dental examine and cleaning. This is done under anesthesia at which time the teeth will be cleaned and polished. A machine is used that scrapes tartar away. Loose teeth are checked for and pulled. Then a toothpaste and polisher are used followed by a dental rinse. Wet food may be recommended afterwards for a few days since their mouth will be sensitive. It is considered a surgery since your dog is under anesthesia so preventative care is important so that it doesn’t have to be done if possible.
Preventative care that can be done at home include: feeding a specially formulated food prescribed by your veterinarian, giving special treats such as dental chews, a dental rinse, and brushing your dog’s teeth. There are a variety of treats, chews, and foods that are available and your veterinarian can discuss which ones to use. A toothbrush or finger-brush along with toothpaste can be obtained at your veterinarian’s office or a pet store. Do not brush your dog’s teeth with human toothpaste since this could lead to an upset stomach. Brushing your dog’s teeth should be done at least three times per week. Not brushing your dog’s teeth can insure that your dog will have to have an annual cleaning. Brushing the teeth will help prevent against tartar buildup. Keeping your dog away from table scraps can help prevent tartar as well. Looking after your dog’s oral care can help give your pup a long happy life.

by Kelli James