Dog dental care

Mother nature designed dog’s teeth especially for catching and killing prey but nowadays of course most dogs no longer use them for that purpose. As so often happens with something that’s no longer used, decay can easily set in. And if you’ve ever suffered with dental problems yourself, then you’ll know how painful they can be. Unlike humans, dogs aren’t able to take care of their dental health themselves. That’s why dog dental care is so important.

Indeed, scientific studies show that up to 70% of domestic dogs will develop gum disease by the age of four. This is a frightening statistic particularly when you think that gum disease can very quickly escalate into much more serious dental health problems if it’s left untreated.

Plaque becomes tartar, gingivitis sets in, bacterial infection leads to periodontal disease, bacterial infection spreads, and before you know it, it’s entered the blood stream and affected your dog’s heart, liver and kidneys.

A guide to dog dental care

Dog dental care

It’s vital, therefore, that you check and clean your dog’s teeth on a regular basis – at least several times a week, if not daily. When brushing your dog’s teeth you shouldn’t use your own toothpaste – human toothpaste is not good for dogs and can cause stomach upsets. Instead you should use one of the special dog toothpastes that are on the market. Not only are these better for your dog, but they are much tastier to them too which makes your job of cleaning their teeth much easier.

It can be difficult to get your dog to accept having their teeth cleaned. It’s best to start brushing their teeth as early as you can, and to introduce it gradually. Combine the brushing with some fun stuff, such as a reward or a bit of play time, so your dog comes to associate the teeth cleaning with fun and doesn’t dread it so much. If you’re having trouble getting your dog to let you brush their teeth, you can try one of the gel toothpastes. These let you apply the gel directly to your dog’s teeth without brushing.

You can buy dog food that is specially designed to improve your dog’s oral health by reducing plaque/tartar. You can also buy dog chews that are specially formulated to promote good oral health.

You’ll also find you can buy water additives such as Tropiclean to help with your dog’s dental care. You add these to your dog’s drinking water and they improve their breath and help prevent problems by reducing plaque and tartar.

Remember, your dog is reliant upon you for their good oral hygiene and dental health. The first sign that your dog has a dental health problem is often bad breath, but if you notice swollen and bleeding gums and loose teeth you should consult your vet without delay.

Here’s a list of the most common dog dental care problems:

AbscessAbscesses to the tooth roots often show up as swellings. They may require root canal work to fix them.
Broken toothTeeth can be chipped and broken while they are playing, fighting or when they are chewing on hard objects.
Distemper teethIf a dog has distemper when they are a puppy, their adult teeth may become stained and decayed and will have to be removed.
GingivitisGingivitis is an infection that causes inflammation and sensitivity of the gums.
Periodontal diseaseThis disease destroys the cement that hold the teeth in place with the result that the teeth become loose and have to be removed.
Proliferating gum diseaseThis is a disease that is common to the boxer breed. The gums grow over the teeth. It can be treated with antibiotics but it may well require surgery if it has reached an advanced stage.
Retained milk teethThis is a common dog dental health problem in small breed dogs. The dog does not lose its milk teeth and so when the adult teeth appear there are 8 canine teeth instead of four. In these cases, a vet needs to remove the milk teeth.
TartarTartar is a hardened form of plaque that forms on the teeth catching food particles and causing gum infections. You can reduce the risk by regularly brushing the teeth. If tartar has already formed, a vet will have to scale and polish the teeth.
Tooth cavityJust like humans, dogs get tooth cavities too. The cavities can be filled but often the best course of action for the dental health of your dog is to pull the affected tooth.
Underbite / overbiteExcept in breeds like Boxers or Bulldogs where this is normal, jaws should always align perfectly. No action is necessary unless it causes the dog pain or discomfort in which case a vet can align the jaws with a brace.

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