Dog Dental Care: Step-by-step guide on caring for your dog’s teeth
Dog dental care is as important to a dog’s health as nutrition, proper exercise and regular grooming. Yet few pet owners pay adequate attention to their dog’s teeth. As a result oral disease is fast becoming the number one canine health problem, which is unnecessary because dental health is easy to attain. It all starts with providing your good dog dental care, both veterinary and at home.
Dog Dental Care: Monitoring Dental Health
Monitoring your dog’s dental health should form part of your weekly grooming routine. Gently lift the lips and examine teeth and gums. Do this with caution because if your dog is suffering pain in his teeth he might snap out if hurt. If you’ve ever had a toothache, I’m sure you’ll sympathize!
Look for these signs, and take your dog to the vet if any are present:
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Increased salivation or drooling
- Red and inflamed gums
- Bleeding gums
- Tartar build-up
- Missing and/or loose teeth
In addition, the following may indicate a dental problem;
- Loss of appetite
- Crying out or whining when chewing
If any of these symptoms are present, take your dog to the vet, because of dental problems, though serious on their own, are often a precursor to more severe problems.
The Dangers of Canine Dental Disease
- Plaque: Plaque is the catalyst for most dental problems in dogs. Food particles and bacteria collect along the gum line and hardens to form a yellow-brown substance where the teeth emerge from the gums.
- Tartar: Plaque starts to mineralize 3-5 days after it forms.
If not removed, it hardens to form tartar which adheres strongly to the teeth.
- Gingivitis: The tartar causes an inflammation of the gums called gingivitis, which also causes bad breath and inflammation of the gums.
- Periodontal Disease: If Tartar is not removed, it builds up under the gums. It forces gaps between the teeth and gums in which bacteria continues to grow, resulting in “periodontal” disease.
At this point, your dog’s dental decay is at an advanced stage, although it can be slowed or stopped if treated by a vet immediately. It can be very painful and can lead to loss of teeth, oral abscesses, and infection. The bacteria may enter the bloodstream causing infection of the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Please, please, please do not let things progress to this stage. It is totally avoidable, and your dog deserves better.
Elements of a Good Dog Dental Care Program
- Incorporate dental care into your grooming routine as early as possible so that your dog gets used to having his teeth brushed. Use toothpaste made for dogs NEVER human toothpaste, as it will make your dog ill.
- Conduct an oral exam as part of your weekly grooming routine. Look for warning signs like bad breath, red and swollen gums, tartar around the gumline, and pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth. Refer dental problems to a vet immediately.
- Plaque begins to turn into tartar within 24-48 hours, so daily brushing is recommended. But if you are not able to brush your dog’s teeth, consider using a canine oral rinse or give your dog a special dental treatment which removes plaque from the teeth.
- Keep up regular visits to your veterinarian, which should include a thorough dental exam to identify and treat problems early.
Don’t disregard this. Dog dental care is vital, not just for oral hygiene, but so the overall health and well-being of your dog.
Related: How to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth