Your dog’s smile is an important part of her health. They need your help to keep their pearly whites, well – pearly. Not to mention the inevitable tartar build up and periodontal disease your dog will face if you neglect this important part of dog ownership.
If your dog is over five years old there is an 85% chance they will suffer from periodontal disease, which develops when food particles and bacteria collect along the gum line form plaque which turns into a harder substance known as tarter over time. If left untreated, the gums will become inflamed, separate from the teeth, which leave pockets for bacteria to grow – aka periodontal disease. If your poor pup gets to this stage she will feel intense pain, lose some teeth and gain mouth abscesses. Visit this website for a list of periodontal disease symptoms.
|Rin's got chews... not the indestructible ones, though.|
The bacterial infection can easily enter the blood stream and cause all sorts of problems, so it’s time to take an interest in the health of your dog’s smile. Here are some things you can do to help prevent the big-bad yourself: gum and teeth inspections, brushing, adequate chewable.
Gum and teeth inspections
Get your dog’s teeth inspected by your veterinarian and ask questions during your annual checkup. Get your dog used to you poking around his mouth with baby steps. Start by touching her lips for a moment, letting go and then giving a treat.
Work your way up to lifting up the lip, then lightly touching the teeth, but never push the dog past the point of comfort. Look for plaque and tartar, gum inflammation and abnormal gum lines (gums that have a slight wave or curve where they meet the tooth instead of a straight line). Once your dog is used to inspections, you are ready to move on to brushing.
Make sure you are brushing your dog’s teeth properly
· Use toothpaste made for dogs, NEVER human toothpaste!
· It’s best to start the healthy habit young, but it’s never too late.
· Brush every other day (at least three times a week), because plaque turns to tartar in just two days. If your dog has already developed periodontal disease then brush daily.
· Get the dog used to brushing in stages.
· Don’t punish the dog if they resist, but slowly allow your dog to get used to the necessary procedure.
Let your dog chew
Feeding dry kibble food, bones and rawhide naturally helps remove plaque and tartar. There are also some good toys and treats that will help with plaque, just make sure they are approved by the VOHC which means they are proven to reduce plaque by 20%.
Following these tips will help freshen your dog’s breath while improving your dog’s overall health. You classy canine companions don’t always know what’s good for them, but if you are gentle in your presentation of dental hygiene your dog will smile pretty for years to come!
I’m Cindy Romero, an animal rights activist and mother to two dogs who love to brush their teeth every day.