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Many dogs show symptoms of dental disease by the age of four because they do not receive adequate dental care. In fact, while pet owners may dismiss bad breath as a “par for the territory” when owning a dog, in reality, bad breath is often the first symptom that your dog is developing gum disease. While a dog’s breath may never smell like a bed of roses, with regular dental cleanings and at-home dental care, your dog’s breath and overall dental health will be in much better shape.
Bacteria and plaque-forming foods naturally cause plaque build-up along your dog’s teeth and gum line. Since your dog cannot brush his own teeth, this build-up will continue unchecked, which can lead to tartar formation. Once plaque has hardened into tartar, it can only be removed through a professional dental cleaning. Plaque and tartar removal is important to reduce the risk for gum disease and other bacterial infections. Tartar deposits can push away the gums, creating pockets that are susceptible to bacterial infections. Should these infections enter the blood stream, your pet could have a serious problem with his lungs, kidneys, liver or other internal organs.
Our veterinarian Dr. Ken DeRemer recommends an annual dental exam for all dogs. During this exam, Dr. DeRemer will check for symptoms of gum disease and perform a full dental cleaning. This includes scraping away plaque and tartar from the gum line to reduce the risk of gum disease. Tartar removal is important for preventing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss.
While all dogs benefit from annual dental check-ups, if your dog is exhibiting symptoms of oral disease, he may need immediate care. Symptoms of oral disease include bad breath, excessive drooling, inflamed gums, tumors in the gums, cysts under the tongue and loose teeth. Dogs with gum disease may be reluctant to eat hard foods, play fetch, or chew on their toys. If you notice a change in your pet’s behavior, such as a sudden preference for softer foods, this may be the cause.
At-home dental care is also important for canines. Since dogs cannot brush their own teeth, it is important that pet owners do this for them. Use a toothbrush that is specifically made for canines as well as pet-friendly toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste as the ingredients can irritate your dog’s stomach. If you have never brushed your dog’s teeth before, you should gradually introduce your pet to the idea of brushing. Start by massaging your dog’s gums with your finger. Some toothbrushes can also be worn over the finger for easier brushing. Apply a small amount of toothpaste to your finger and hold it at a 45-degree angle. Move the finger in a small, circular motion to clean your pet’s teeth. Aim to brush your dog’s teeth at least once per week.
Time to schedule your dog’s dental cleaning? Call us today at 503-661-1833.