Your dog’s oral hygiene is a very important but often overlooked aspect of his overall health and wellbeing. Toothache and sore gums can cause pain and distress and as an owner, you may not even be aware that your dog is suffering.
Plaque can build up on a healthy tooth in just a few days; if not removed promptly, this hardens to form tartar. Tartar irritates the gums, leading to gingivitis and causing bad breath. Progressively, the gums can recede and ulcerate, with teeth loosening and becoming lost. Bacterial infection can also set in. Untreated oral bacterial infections can result in serious and even life-threatening problems with the liver, kidneys and heart. So it’s crucial that prevention is better than cure.
It is estimated that 85% of dogs aged over three to four years have some form of periodontal disease, be it mild to severe. This can lead to infection, illness, pain, and loss of teeth.
Common signs of canine dental disease include:
- Bad breath
- Reduced appetite
- Difficulty eating
- Painful or irritated mouth
- Rubbing or pawing at the mouth
- Bleeding gums
- Tartar build-up on teeth (yellowish-brown)
- Teeth that are chipped, broken or loose
- Loss of teeth
Seek advice and guidance from your vet as to how to brush your dog’s teeth at home. Additionally, give canine dental treats and feed your dog a dental diet. A raw bone given once or twice weekly will occupy your pet and help keep his mouth healthy.
While a professional tooth cleaning is important for your dog, you as an owner also have a part to play in looking after your pet’s teeth and gums. While daily brushing is best, at least three times per week is probably more realistic. Obviously, it will take training and time for your dog to get used to this, but with perseverance, it should become part of his routine.
Professional dog grooming centres do not clean your dog’s teeth; you need to see your vet for this essential service. Your vet can assess your dog’s dentition and recommend the frequency at which you’ll need to have Fido’s teeth cleaned. He or she will also recommend products like doggie toothpaste, doggie toothbrushes, and provide other dental health tips.