Almost every dog owner has experienced their beloved pet excitedly giving them an enthusiastic kiss on the face. Unfortunately, the breath that sometimes accompanies the kisses can be enough to knock you off your feet. Bad breath is just one sign of teeth issues, and pet owners should recognize that putrid breath is not a 'normal' occurrence.
The Importance of Healthy Teeth
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), two-thirds of dogs under the age of three have signs of periodontal disease. Without preventative measures, bacterial plaque can grow in the mouth, attacking the gums and eventually the jaw bone itself. In addition, excessive bacteria in the bloodstream can strain the organs, particularly the liver.
Dogs use their teeth every day for eating, playing, and grooming. Broken, loose, and rotten teeth can hamper your pooches' ability to eat, and they may begin to withdraw for the sake of protecting themselves from a rowdy sibling or unaware owner. They rarely show pain, but owners can watch for minor signs that a dog isn't feeling well without prying their mouth open. According to Pet MD, bleeding gums and drooling are two signs that can be seen easily.
When properly cared for, dogs' teeth can serve them well into their teen years. Regular observance and preventative actions can keep your pet off the vets' dental table for as long as possible.
How to Keep Your Dogs' Teeth Clean
Training your dog to accept a toothbrush can be a challenge, but doing so means you'll get up close and personal with their teeth health. Manual abrasion with the toothbrush will keep plaque at bay, and turning the event into a treat-filled endeavor means dogs won't mind so much. Choose a dog-friendly toothpaste that is safe for them to consume and take your time acclimating your dog to the activity.
According to the AKC, dental wipes work similarly to toothbrushes without the ability to get in all the nooks and crannies. If a dog is uncooperative with a toothbrush, dental wipes are a lower-maintenance option.
There is a smattering of dog dental chews on the market. When picking one, look at the recommended servings, feel how soft they are, and check the ingredients. Choosing the right-sized chew for your dogs' weight is essential because the treats move plaque away using the chewing motion. Too big or too small - and the treat isn't as effective as it could be. If you have a dog with sensitive teeth, picking a treat that isn't too hard will ensure they chew on it enough to reap the benefits. Checking the ingredients is essential, and on dental chews, look for whole ingredients such as chicken, potatoes, and peas. The chew should have preservatives to keep it shelf-stable, but excessive outlandish ingredients should be avoided. If you don't know what an ingredient is, look it up.
Similar to dental chews, dental toys reduce plaque by utilizing the chewing motion. Durable, synthetic "bones" can have added flavors that keep your dogs' interest. Common brands are Nylabone and Durachew. Select the correct size for your dog and try to pick a product with ridges, giving it the best chance at plaque-busting action.
Believe it or not, there are water additives for dogs that can freshen breath and aid in keeping plaque at bay. Think of it as a very diluted mouthwash! These products are not a silver bullet, but they can improve your dogs' teeth when coupled with other dental health practices.
The Big Guns
If the preventative measures are not enough, a trip to the vet might be in order. According to Care Animal Hospital, a veterinary professional can anesthetize, x-ray, and clean a dogs' teeth in around an hour and a half.
The sedation provides a more intimate teeth-cleaning job and allows the veterinarian to remove plaque above and below the gumline. In addition, the x-rays will allow the vet to see any decay in the jaw, and removal of teeth is easier if the patient is already in dreamland.
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