Dental care is important for dogs. Unfortunately, it is sometimes overlooked. Many dog owners just expect that there dogs will have bad breath and don’t brush their teeth often enough. Good dental hygiene is just as important to your dog’s health as proper exercise, grooming and nutrition.
Monitoring Dental Health
Severe dental diseases can be avoided by catching teeth problems early. Looking at your dog’s teeth on a regular basis and knowing the signs of problems are two of the easiest ways to keep track of your dog’s dental health. When inspecting your dog’s teeth, lift his lips all the way around his mouth and look at the front and back teeth closely. Make sure to use caution and be gentle to avoid accidentally getting nipped. Keep up with routine veterinarian exams since your vet will check your dog’s teeth during these visits as well. In between exams, watch for any of the following signs and contact your vet if a problem arises.
- Bad breath
- Pain when chewing or reluctance to chew
- Increase in salivation
- Puffy/red gums
- Bleeding gums
- Tartar build-up
- Loose or missing teeth
- Any unusual mouth abnormalities
Dangers of Dental Disease
Plaque may build up on your dog’s teeth and turn into tartar. Areas with excessive tartar build-up grow bacteria that can eat away at the teeth and gums. This may lead to periodontal disease, oral pain, halitosis or tooth loss. Other areas of the body like the heart and kidneys can also be affected by harmful bacteria in the mouth. Address any dental concerns as soon as they are detected.
There are steps you can take to help ensure good dental health for your dog. Begin a regular routine of dental care as early as possible. This helps your dog become accustomed to having his teeth brushed and inspected, making dental care much easier for both of you. Keep the following tips in mind when brushing your dog’s teeth:
1. Never use human toothpastes or oral rinses on your dog’s teeth. This could make your dog very ill. There are specialized enzymatic toothpastes that are made especially for dogs.
2. Daily brushing is recommended since plaque begins to turn into tartar within 24 to 48 hours. Consider brushing your dog’s teeth at the same time of the day that your brush your own to make it easier to remember.
3. Pick up a finger brush that is specifically designed for use on a dog’s teeth. These do not feel as awkward as hard brushes and will help your dog ease into the routine.
4. Ask your vet to give you some pointers and techniques that might make brushing your dog’s teeth easier for both you and your dog.
There are other options available if for some reason you are not able to brush your dog’s teeth. Consider using some of the oral rinses and dental treats that are made especially for dogs.
Your dog may need a professional cleaning on occasion. General anesthesia is required for this procedure. Your dog’s teeth and gums will be checked for any problems followed by a scaling and polishing.