Did You Know That Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth Is Vital?
13 January, 2015
We all know how important is it to feed our dogs the right food, take them to the vet for an annual check-up and make sure our dogs get plenty of exercise. However, what we sometimes forget is how important our dog’s dental health is (just as in humans) and brushing your dog’s teeth can lead to a healthy mouth. In fact, many dogs show signs of signs of gum disease by the time they’re four years old because they have not been provided with proper dental care.
Below are some tips to help you prevent dental illness is in your dogs.
Is your dog’s breath offensive?
As we all know, normal doggie breath isn’t particularly fresh-smelling. However, if your dog’s breath is especially offensive and is accompanied by a loss of appetite, vomiting or excessive drinking or urinating, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet.
Examine your dog’s teeth weekly
Once a week, with your dog facing you, lift your dog’s lips and examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean, without any brownish tartar.
Brush my teeth weekly!
Symptoms of dental or gum disease
The following are signs that your dog may have a problem in his mouth and should be checked by a veterinarian:
Bad breath, excessive drooling, inflame gums, loose teeth or bumps on your pups’ tongue.
How to prevent bacteria and/or gum disease in your dogs
Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause build-up on a dog’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. Regular brushing and teeth cleaning can keep tartar and gingivitis away.
Canine Tooth-Brushing Kit
Get yourself a toothbrush made especially for canines or a clean piece of soft gauze to wrap around your finger. Ask your vet for a toothpaste made especially for canines or make a paste out of baking soda and water. Never use fluoride with dogs under six months of age—it can interfere with their enamel formation. And make sure not to use human toothpaste, which can irritate a dog’s stomach. Special mouthwash for dogs is also available—ask your vet.
Taking these steps will make brushing a lot easier for the both of you:
1. First get your dog used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Massage her lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks. Then move on to your dog’s teeth and gums.
2. When your pooch seems comfortable being touched this way, put a little bit of dog-formulated toothpaste or a paste of baking soda and water on her lips to get her used to the taste.
3. Finally, apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing. You can become adept at brushing and it will go quickly.
Potential mouth issues in your pups
If you are familiar with the possible mouth problems your dog may encounter, it will help you determine when it’s time to see a vet about treatment:
Periodontal disease is a painful infection between the tooth and the gum that can result in tooth loss and spread infection to the rest of the body. Signs are loose teeth, bad breath, tooth pain, sneezing and nasal discharge.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused mainly by accumulation of plaque, tartar and disease-producing bacteria above and below the gum line. Signs include bleeding, red, swollen gums and bad breath. It is reversible with regular teeth cleanings.
Halitosis—or bad breath—can be the first sign of a mouth problem and is caused by bacteria growing from food particles caught between the teeth or by gum infection. Regular tooth-brushings are a great solution.
Proliferating gum disease occurs when the gum grows over the teeth and must be treated to avoid gum infection which can usually be treated with antibiotics.
Salivary cysts look like large, fluid-filled blisters under the tongue, but can also develop near the corners of the jaw. They require drainage, and the damaged saliva gland must be removed.
Canine distemper teeth can occur if a dog had distemper as a puppy. Adult teeth can appear looking eroded and can often decay. As damage is permanent, decayed teeth should be removed by a vet.
Chew toys can help your dog’s dental health
Chew toys can satisfy your dog’s natural desire to chomp, while making his teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help massage his gums and help keep his teeth clean by scraping away soft tartar. Ask your vet to recommend toxin-free rawhide, nylon and rubber chew toys.
Special diet for healthy teeth
You can also ask your vet about a specially formulated dry food that can slow down the formation of plaque and tartar. Also, avoid feeding your dog table scraps, instead giving him treats that are specially formulated to keep canine teeth healthy.