You’ve probably heard the saying that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s. Well, while that might be true, it doesn’t mean you can neglect your dog’s teeth.
Just like us, dogs can develop bad breath, yellowing teeth, and even severe illnesses, such as liver, kidney, and heart disease if you don’t take care of their teeth. In fact, 80% of dogs show signs of dental disease by age three. This can lead to abscesses, tooth loss, and chronic pain.
So, what can you do to keep your dog healthy and pain-free? Here’s what you need to know.
This seems like an obvious one, but many dog owners go too long between vet clinic visits, forget to ask the vet about their dog’s periodontal health, or even skip veterinary services altogether. The best treatment for periodontal disease is preventative, so make sure your dog is going to the vet clinic every six to twelve months.
Okay. This sounds tricky, and it probably will be until you get the hang of it, but, brushing your dog’s teeth daily removes plaque and can prevent future problems. Use a canine toothbrush and toothpaste (nothing with fluoride, which can be poisonous to animals) and brush at a 45 degree angle. Try waiting until your pooch is worn out before brushing—he or she will be more likely to sit still. Do small bits at a time. Start with the front teeth and give the dog a break, or, better yet, a treat before you brush the rest.
Soft food and treats can stick to your dog’s teeth and lead to decay. Dry food and treats, on the other hand, will not. You can even find brands that promote dental health. Just remember to pair this with daily brushing to decrease the risk of periodontal disease.
You can find lots of great chew toys or synthetic bones for your dog, and many are now designed to help strengthen teeth and gums. Just remember that real bones should be avoided as they pose obstruction and choking hazards.
Even if you follow all these rules religiously, you should still be checking your dog’s mouth regularly to make sure he or she won’t require additional vet services. If you notice bad breath, a change in eating habits, swollen or bleeding gums, broken or discolored teeth, excessive drooling, growths or bumps in or around the mouth, tartar along the gum line, scratching or pawing at the mouth, or even depression, your dog will need a trip to the local vet.
Following these simple tips can help your dog live a long and comfortable life free from periodontal disease.
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