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Tooth Troubles: Does Your Dog Have Dental Disease?

        
          

Dog Dental DiseaseConfession time, dog lovers – how many of you brush your dog’s teeth every day? We bet that many of you out there don’t do it all that often, in fact; veterinary statistics show that most dog owners underestimate the importance of regular dental care for their dogs, while some may not even realize that their dog is experiencing serious tooth troubles. Why is this? We have no problem taking care of our own teeth; brushing, flossing, and visits to the dentist are all part of our own regular health care routines, so what prevents us from doing the same for our dogs?

Well, the answer isn’t simple, of course. To begin with, not many of our furry friends are thrilled about having their mouths invaded in the first place, so it can be easier to simply give up on dental care instead of wrestling your pup to get a minute or two of brushing in. It’s no secret that we’re busier as a society too – with the demands of work, family, and other obligations, sometimes the smaller priorities in life get pushed to the side, as much as we hate to admit it. And finally, some of us just don’t recognize or believe that our dogs teeth are truly in need of attention; although dental disease is definitely painful for our pups, dogs are experts at hiding their discomfort. In reality, though, canine researchers have found that most dogs over the age of four are actually at the point where they need veterinary care for their dental disease. Tooth decay in dogs starts very much like it does in humans, with plaque building up on the surface of your dog’s teeth day by day. The plaque will cause gum irritation and gingivitis over time, and eventually it binds with minerals in your dog’s saliva to form hard dental tartar. The bacteria in the plaque and tartar can develop into to an oral infection, causing major damage to the bony foundation that holds your dog’s teeth in place, and creating swollen, painful and bleeding gums. If the dental disease is left long enough without treatment, your dog can even lose their teeth, and those same bacteria might travel through the bloodstream, causing damage to other organs like their heart and kidneys. Yikes!

As your dog’s pup parent, it’s a good idea to know the signs of tooth trouble and discuss them with your vet; even if they don’t seem like a big deal to you, your dog might be feeling sick or in pain. Here are some of the signs to look for:

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Red, bleeding or swollen gums
  • Staining or yellow tartar
  • Loose teeth
  • Changes in your dog’s personality
  • Reluctance to be touched around the head or mouth
  • Poorly chewed food or loss of appetite

dog water additives

So what’s the best way to prevent oral health issues for your dog? In spite of marketing claims, most treats and chews that claim to clean teeth aren’t really that effective, and probably do more to increase your dog’s waistline than to keep his chompers clean. Some veterinary developed water additives (like HealthyMouth, for example) can soften dental plaque and reduce the amount of bacteria in your dog’s mouth; ones approved by the Veterinary Council of Oral health are ones to look for. Simply speaking, no other solution is better than tooth brushing to remove plaque. Just like dental health programs in children, routine care should be started when your dog is a puppy, and your vet’s staff or your dog trainer can help you with a reward-based program to gradually teach your pooch to tolerate brushing. The time commitment isn’t large –brushing for mere minutes each day is all that’s needed– but the benefits gained for your pup’s long-term health in just those few moments are unbeatable!

Sources: AAHA

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Vince

Living in Indiana, I love many of things. God, my family and almost anything outdoors.

I started newdogowners.com for one simple reason, to help prepare new dog owners for owning a new puppy. My goal is to help stop the passing around of dogs. The forever home, should be a dog's first home.
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  1. Pete says:

    I enjoyed the honesty of this article. Owners really need to consider the oral hygiene of their pets. Dog owner’s who are also parents used canine hygiene practices as an example for their children. Just like children, dogs and puppies need to be taught to brush their teeth.

    Dental care involves dog plaque removal. Removing this plaque involves picking the right toothbrush and early training for your dog. I personally tried chews and while this appears as an “easy” solution, I have found that this does not help. What you want to do is purchase a quality canine toothbrush and begin training your dog when he is a puppy.

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