Dental problems have a way of finding almost anyone – even dogs. Years ago, protecting their teeth from dental decay and keeping their teeth clean was a simple matter for dogs. Their diet included wild prey instead of canned food or flavored nuggets. Chewing on the hide of animals and gnawing on their bones cleaned the teeth of dogs so that very little food remained on their pearly whites.
Today, however, the responsibility for protecting the teeth and gums of dogs goes to their masters. Since plaque accumulates naturally on canine teeth, it is important to remove it on a regular basis. Allowing dental plaque to build up for weeks at a time allows it to harden to a substance referred to as tartar. Once this happens, the teeth become susceptible to dental decay, painful infections, and tooth abscesses.
Left untreated, minor dental problems can develop into major ones. In fact, untreated tooth decay can develop into painful infections that can travel from the gums to the dog’s vital organs. Once the infection reaches these organs, including the heart, liver, kidneys, or lungs, irreparable damage can be caused.
Signs Of Dental Problems
Several signs exist that indicate dental problems for your dog. These include bad breath, a decreased desire to chew dog treats, a hesitation to begin eating, or a decreased desire to eat anything at all. Additionally, a dog with dental problems might favor one side of the mouth while chewing or he might begin to eat only to stop in obvious discomfort.
Since bad breath is often caused by gingivitis or gum disease, taking action once you notice its presence can prevent more serious complications later on down the road. In most cases, prompt attention and treatment can save your dog the pain of dental complications.
Dog Dental Care
Preventive measures can and should be taken to ensure your dog’s dental health. The initial steps involve the simple practice of purchasing dry dog food with tartar control properties. Even though this will help to reduce plaque build up and prevent periodontal disease in your dog, it will not eliminate it completely.
Additionally, it is important to feed your dog hard biscuits to help eliminate any plaque build up. Look for a brand of dog biscuits that advertise tartar control properties. The chewing that is required with dry dog food and hard dog biscuits helps to eliminate both plaque and tartar due to the more vigorous chewing they necessitate. Plus, a new entourage of dog bones has been produced to encourage good dental health for your dog.
A variety of dog bones are on the market that is also designed to help encourage dental health in your pet. One benefit of these newer styles of dog treats is the fact that many of them come with small raised bumps that are designed to remove plaque more readily. Additionally, these dog bones require vigorous chewing due to their hardness.
One of the most important things you can do to provide your dog with the best dental health possible is to brush his teeth for him. Most pet stores and veterinarian offices carry a line of dog toothbrushes that can be used on a weekly basis. If you aren’t comfortable using the ones that look just like the ones people use, you can purchase one that slips over your finger. Never use toothpaste meant for humans when you brush your dog’s teeth. A special formula is used for canine toothpaste and it should be the only type that you utilize.
If your dog does experience tooth decay and infection, take him to your veterinarian for professional dental hygiene care. Serious dental problems typically require anesthesia. If you have pet insurance on your dog, check into its coverage to see if it covers dental work.
By Susan M. Keenan