Dogs and humans share many common health issues, including dental care. Just as humans must practice good oral hygiene to stay healthy, more and more studies show that regular oral care is also important for your dog’s health. Dental care for dogs is a relatively new concept. However, veterinarians now believe that proper oral hygiene can actually help your dog live a healthier and longer life.
Just like a human, a dog’s teeth will deteriorate over time if they are neglected. Poor dental care can cause pain, discomfort, illness and even infections for your dog.
Dental Disease In Dogs First, sugars and other food particles cause a layer of plaque to build up on the teeth. This plaque creates bacteria, which can be removed by chewing and eating dry dog food.
Next, the plaque solidifies into a hard, mineralized substance called tartar. Tartar build-up will eventually cause Gingivitis. Symptoms include swollen, bleeding gums and foul breath.
When tartar is left untreated, it builds to a certain level on the teeth and settles under the gums. And periodontal disease sets in. This disease eats away at the flesh, creating gaps between the teeth and gums. These gaps harbor massive amounts of bacteria. Damage from periodontal disease is permanent, and can include abscesses, infections, and tooth loss.
In the worst cases of Periodontal disease, bacteria leaks into the bloodstream, causing infections in the bloodstream and kidneys. Further complications can lead to death. This is why dental health care for your dog is so important.
So how do you prevent this? Give your dog daily oral exams. Look for:
– reddened or bleeding gums
– chipped or cracked teeth
– swollen lips or gums
– These are signs of disease or injury and should be reported to your veterinarian.
Next, brush your dogs teeth; every day. This can be done using a washcloth and your finger, or a special doggie toothbrush. Never use human toothpaste on your dog. Because your dog can’t “rinse-and-spit”, he needs a toothpaste with a lower grit. You can purchase supplies at any pet store, online, or through your veterinarian.
Chew toys with ridges and bumps are excellent tartar removers. Keep your dog on dry food. Crunching the kibble helps prevent tartar build up.
Your vet can do the necessary routine dental cleanings. This is done under anesthesia. Your vet will also take dental X-rays to check for any abnormalities and to ensure that all the teeth are strong and healthy. Afterwards, your dogs teeth will be clean and healthy.
Dental care for dogs, with it’s cleanings and x-rays, can be just as expensive as a trip to a human dentist. Fortunately, another new concept is “Pet Health Insurance”. You can learn more by going online. You can also check with your local pet store, veterinarian or your own health insurance company to see what type of coverage is available.