Brushing Up on Your Dogs Health

Proper dental care for a dog can be easy and inexpensive. Poor or no dental care, on the other hand, can be devastating for both pet and owner. Infections, mood changes, and heart disease are only some issues that can arise from dental problems. Your dog’s breed, genetics, and lifestyle determine how much dental care is needed.1

The first step in determining your dog’s dental requirements is to do a visual exam. Check for tarter buildup, irritation, discoloration, and broken or loose teeth. If any of these are noticeable, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss options. If you don’t see any of these issues, ask your veterinarian to evaluate your dog’s teeth during their next annual exam. Depending on the severity and type of problem your dog may have, the veterinarian will suggest anything from regular brushing, to a change in food, to a dental procedure.2

Serious cases will need a teeth cleaning that does include placing your pet under anesthesia for a short amount of time. During this procedure the dog is sedated and a veterinarian or veterinary technician will clean their teeth and gums and polish the teeth to discourage future tarter buildup. Recessed gums may need to be flushed with an antibiotic and have the teeth removed. This will result in dissolvable stitches and your pet will need to take an antibiotic for at least a week. However, with proper dental care your pet may be able to avoid this fate!

Dental care products on the market today include specially made tooth paste and tooth brushes or finger covers with bristles. NEVER use human tooth paste. Not every dog will allow prodding in its mouth so there are tools for these picky pets also; There are mouth sprays, gum foams, and drinking water additives that can be used to fend off plaque and tarter. Introducing your pet to brushing early in life will also make this task much easier. Employees at your veterinary clinic will be able to discuss options for your pet with you.

Some other tips to maintaining your dog’s healthy teeth:

Don’t feed your dog table scraps. Dog food is formulated specifically for their mouths. The content and structure of dog food is intended to keep tarter buildup down. Watch what your dog chews. Don’t let them have things like rocks, wood, or pine cones. These objects can break teeth and irritate gums. Offer your dog ‘dental’ treats. There are many treats available for purchase that clean your dog’s teeth as they chew.

Proper dental hygiene is as important for your pet as it is for you. Clean your dog’s teeth regularly and you can have a healthy, happy, pet for many years to come.

*Candace volunteers at two animal clinics part time and for an animal shelter medical team; however, she is not a certified veterinarian or pet medical specialist. Any information offered above is strictly informational and not intended to be used to treat any medical condition.

1. DogLics. (2011). Oral Hygiene For Your Dog. Keeping Your Dogs Teeth Clean. Retrieved December 29, 2011, from Dog Lics:

2. PetMD, LLC. (n.d.). Gum Disease in Dogs. Retrieved December 29, 2011, from PETMD:

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