Ever get a whiff of puppy breath? It’s addicting to most dog lovers. There’s something about the puppy food, milk, and not sure what else combo that gets a human’s parental instincts in a dither. They need to sniff more and more. Soon enough the puppy breath goes away to be replaced by dog breath. While the average dogs breath is nothing to get in a frenzy over, in fact most people avoid smelling their dog’s breath if they can. It’s when the dog’s breath goes from mild “Yuck” to “What died?”. That’s when a majority of owners realize the importance of dental hygiene for dogs.
What’s the big deal about dental hygiene for dogs?
Roughly 70% of dogs over the age of two have some form of dental issue such as loose, discolored teeth or swollen gums which may lead to pain while eating and chewing. If dental issues aren’t treated promptly, dental disease will set in. Dental disease carries the potential of damaging the liver, kidneys and heart of an otherwise healthy dog.
When taking a dog in for their regular wellness check, a vet will examine the dog’s teeth. This could also easily be done at home, in between visits, to ensure the dog has no swelling or inflammation that is painful. First, sniff the dog’s breath. Rest assured it isn’t going to smell like sweet puppy breath or a bouquet of lilacs, but if is smells gag worthy, it might be best to get him to a veterinarian.
Once a week or so lift the dog’s lips and examine the teeth and gums. The gums should be pink and the teeth should be white(ish). If the gums are white, red or visibly swollen it is a good indication of dental disease and the vet should be contacted.
Some of the other symptoms that may indicate dental diseases are excessive drooling (If the dog is not from a drooling breed), loss of appetite, loose teeth, cysts under the tongue or tumors on the gum line.
Brusha, Brusha, Brusha
To keep the teeth sparkly clean, it is important to brush the dog’s teeth three to four times a week. There are various toothpaste brands and flavors on the market that are specifically made for dogs. Avoid using human toothpaste, it may upset a dogs stomach.
If the dog has never had his teeth brushed before, it is best to ease him into the new idea by massaging his lips, in a circular motion, with fingertips for 30-60 seconds a day. Keep up the lip massage for a week and then slowly move the fingertips onto the teeth and gums. When he’s comfortable with this practice, place a little of the doggy paste on his lips. This will get him used to the new taste. Be sure to brush in small circular motions, concentrating on each section.
Diet and exercise are the best course of action to keep a dog healthy. In the case of maintaining good dental hygiene for dogs, there are some excellent products on the market to use in between brushings. Greenies dental chew sticks come highly recommended by both veterinarians and owners alike. They are available in all sizes for every breed.
There is also mouthwash specifically made for dogs to keep breath fresh and reduce plaque buildup. Available through most veterinarian offices, Dog: Essential may be added to a dog’s water or sprayed directly into his mouth.
Extend the life of a four legged companion today by keeping their pearly whites, well, pearly white. With their fresher breath, an owner may be ready to accept kisses now.