After my Basset Hound, Hunter, turned four years old, I noticed that some of his back teeth had turned black. At his yearly health checkup, my veterinarian performed an oral exam. She then informed me that Hunter needed a dental cleaning and possible tooth extraction.
A dental cleaning is performed with the dog sedated under general anesthesia and it's a costly procedure - $268 for me.
As it turned out, Hunter came through the procedure with all of his teeth intact. Surprisingly, he was diagnosed with moderate dental tartar (I expected it to be much worse) and I was instructed to brush his teeth daily to prevent a recurrence of dental problems.
From this experience I learned that neglecting dog dental care may lead to oral disease, which is a common health problem in pets, and costly veterinarian bills.
It is important to brush your dog's teeth. Ideally, veterinarians recommend daily brushing with a toothpaste specifically designed for dogs. Also, use a toothbrush designed for dogs or pets because the brush will be smaller and softer than the ones that we use.
While cavities usually are not a problem in dogs, plaque build up is.
Plaque develops as food particles and bacteria form along the gum line. It's easily removed by brushing. If plaque is not removed, it calcifies within a few days and becomes tartar. Tartar can not be removed by brushing but instead, requires a dental cleaning by a vet.
If tarter is not removed, it may lead to periodontal disease which is a serious condition causing irreversible damage to the teeth. Left untreated, the disease may also lead to other serious health problems.
Don't let your dog's teeth deteriorate! Brush frequently, just like you do yours.
Bad breath is a common complaint among pet owners and it's important to determine the root cause of the odor.
In most cases, a lingering odor is caused by some sort of dental problem such as plaque, gingivitis, or periodontal disease. But, other health problems including but not limited to diabetes, respiratory disease, and gastrointestinal disease may also cause bad breath.
If your dog suffers from persistent bad breath, then have a veterinarian check him to determine the root cause.
Here is an excellent video demonstrating how to clean your dog's teeth:
When cleaning your dog's teeth, use dental care products specifically designed for dogs. Don't use toothpaste for humans on your dog's teeth because it may cause an upset stomach or illness.
Many owners overlook the importance of routine dog dental care, as I did. To prevent serious health problems and costly veterinarian bills:
If you are unable to brush daily, then at a minimum do it as often as you can. If you only get to it every other day, then that is better than nothing at all. While brushing usually does not eliminate the periodic need for a costly dental cleaning by a vet, it does slow the build up of plaque and helps to prevent oral diseases.
Time Saving Tip: Use dental wipes when you are busy with little time for brushing.
Frequent brushing along with regular checkups is the best way to prevent serious dental problems that are costly to treat.
If you have never brushed your dog's teeth, then a dental care kit will get you started. This dog dental care kit includes one tube of flavored enzymatic toothpaste, a finger toothbrush to massage gums, and a soft dual-ended toothbrush that adapts to small and large tooth surfaces.
Ideally, veterinarians recommend brushing your dog's teeth once per day because it is the best way to remove plaque.
Dental wipes are a great alternative when you do not have time to brush. Each wipe is saturated with a dental cleansing solution. Simply wrap the wipe around your index finger and then slide your finger inside your dog's cheek. Cleaning his teeth and gum line using a small circular motion.
I love using wipes when I'm in a hurry or too busy to get the tooth paste and tooth brush out. The key is to keep the wipe wrapped around your finger to prevent your dog from grabbing it with his tongue and then swallowing it.
Supplemental dog dental care products to consider:
My dog, Hunter!
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