The Importance of Proper Dental Hygiene & Care for a Dog's Teeth
Apr 30, 2010 Amanda Griffith
Dogs need sufficient dental hygiene to prevent plaque and tartar build-up, cavities and gum disease. Learn the best techniques, including what tools to use.
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Just like their human counterparts, dogs also need to have clean teeth, not only to prevent cavities but to avoid dental conditions like gingivitis and periodontal disease. But how does a pet-owner go about ensuring proper dental care for her four-legged friend?
Dental ExaminationsMost dogs visit the veterinarian twice each year for well check-ups. During this time, the staff will check his teeth and gums. The doctor is looking for buildup of plaque or tartar, reddened gums (gingivitis), bleeding, broken teeth, and other problems.
If pet owners notice problems like breath odor, drooling, or difficulty eating, though, a dog should be examined right away. The sooner that dental disease is identified and treated, the better the outcome. Common Dental Problems Faced by Dogs
PetPlace.com quotes an American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) statistic that 80 percent of dogs show oral disease by age 3, and it is the most common health problem treated in small animal health clinics today.
Two common problems dogs with poor hygiene have are loose tooth and abscesses. Studies also show that 98 percent of dogs with bad breath suffer from periodontal disease that is caused by plaque build-up.
The buildup of bacteria in a dog's mouth may cause more than just bad breath; according to research presented at a recent conference on Companion Animal Oral Health, bacteria are also the cause of oral disease and diseases in other organs of the body. If left untreated, this can lead to a bacterial infection, which can enter the bloodstream and spread to a dog's kidney, liver, heart and even brain, according to Dog Breed Info Center.
What Type of Toothpaste Do Dogs Use?Dogs cannot use human toothpaste because human toothpaste is not edible. Because dogs can't spit, they will end up swallowing fluoride which can be harmful.
Dog owners can, however, purchase an edible toothpaste, just for dogs, at the pet store. There are a variety of flavors available, from maple to beef, which can serve as a delicious treat for a dog.
Five Simple Steps to Brush a Dog's TeethBrushing a dog's teeth is really quite easy, once a pet owner gets the hang of it. By following a few simple steps, the process becomes even smoother over time. Select an appropriate time - start when the dog is relaxed Acquaint the dog with the process - for the first few sessions a toothbrush isn't needed. The owner need only gently stroke the outside of the dog's cheeks with a finger. After she becomes comfortable with that, place a dab of toothpaste on a finger and let her taste it. Introduce the toothbrush - with a small amount of toothpaste, in a slow circular motion, brush one or two teeth and the adjoining gum line. Begin brushing - over the next several of days, gradually increase the number of teeth brushed Ensure the experience is a pleasant one - make the experience relaxing and fun. Praise the dog after so she looks forward to the next time. How Often Should a Dog's Teeth Be Brushed?
A dog's teeth should be cleaned at least twice a week. Feeding him dry dog food and giving him plenty of hard bones to chew on is one way to help keep his teeth healthier between brushing. Treats, Chews and Other Dental Products
The PurinaCare Pet Health Library notes that a variety of products are marketed to help keep a dog's teeth clean at home. These include dental care diets, plaque reducing treats and toys, and solutions that are applied to dogs mouth.
Before using a commercially available product, pet owners should always check with their veterinarian because some may be unsafe or may interfere with other treatments a dog is receiving. In general, dogs should avoid very hard chews such as natural bone or cow hooves to prevent damage to the teeth and gums. It is important to remember, too, that although treats and chews may be of some benefit, there is no substitute for regular tooth brushing. Taking Care of a Dog's Teeth Long-Term
Understanding the importance of keeping a dog's teeth healthy and bright, of ensuring fresh breath and healthy gums is critical to the long-term health of a canine.
Pet owners should remember that consistency and thoroughness is key. In just a few minutes each week, it is easy to maintain a simple and effective teeth cleaning ritual through teeth brushing, proper food and supplemental treats.
Sources:"You Want Me to Brush My DOG's Teeth?," Dog Breed Info Center website
"How to Care For Your Dog's Teeth," Petplace.com
"Caring for Your Dog's Teeth," PurinaCare website
"How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth," Placerville Veterinary Clinic website