February is Pet Dental Month

Dental Care For Your Dog

A pet dental month was established to create awareness of the importance of good dental hygiene for dogs and cats. Proper pet dental hygiene is all too often overlooked when it comes to your pet’s health. In fact, it is estimated that by age 3 roughly 80% of dogs will experience some form of paradental disease. It may start as just bad breath, redness in the gums, discolored teeth, or excessive plaque on teeth at the gumline. But as it becomes more advanced it can lead to gum disease, cavities, tooth loss and pain. If plaque buildup on your pet’s teeth goes unchecked that plaque can be absorbed into the blood stream clogging alterities, affecting vital organs, leading to heart and kidney disease. Such dental diseases can shorten a dog’s life by as much as seven years.

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So, when it comes to your dog’s oral health, don’t neglect it or procrastinate. Just as we schedule annual exams with dentists for ourselves, we should keep up with our dog’s oral hygiene by scheduling annual dental checkups for them as well. This includes yearly professional teeth cleanings. It’s a fact that proper oral hygiene makes for a happier, healthier pet.

How do you know if your dog is having the onset of dental issues? Some early signs to look for are bad breath, discolored teeth (brown or yellow), and plaque buildup at the gumline. More advanced symptoms are appetite loss, excessive drooling, favoring one side of the mouth when chewing, sensitive or loose teeth, reddened or bleeding gums, blood in the water bowl or on chew toys. Too often by the time signs of advanced periodontitis appear, your dog could be in significant chronic pain. If your dog is experiencing any of these issues you should consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Periodontal diseases can be treated and reversed if detected early.

So how can you prevent your dog from getting periodontal disease? First and foremost, schedule a dental examination for your dog with your veterinarian. This is the first step to detect if there are any oral issues your dog may be experiencing. Remember: An ounce of prevention goes a long way.

There are several daily maintenance practices which can help prevent dental issues from developing into unmanageable situations between those annual dental checkups.

  • Daily brushing of your dog’s teeth will prevent bacteria and plaque from building up (choose a toothpaste made specially for dogs). Ignoring plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth can lead to serious long term health issues.

  • There are dental chews and toys available designed to help reduce tartar development that hardens into plaque. However, these products do not substitute for brushing, but do assist with daily oral hygiene care. Check your dog’s mouth occasionally. If you notice inflamed or swollen gums, loose teeth or even appetite changes, see your vet immediately.

  • There are additives you can put in your dog’s drinking water daily to help fight, even eliminate plaque buildup. But before you select a dental water additive for your pet’s drinking water do a little research. Some of these additives are a combination of natural products with chemical derivatives added and may cause unintentional side effects over the long term. I prefer TEEF, the only 100% all-natural dental water additive that will eliminate plaque, even below the gumline.

  • And don’t underestimate the value of a heathy diet for your pet that provides the proper nutrition they need. Poor or inadequate nutrition can factor into whether your dog will develop periodontal disease. Select a dog food high in protein, low in carbohydrates with the right balance of nutrients for the size, age, and condition of your pet.

Most all dogs will develop a periodontitis bacterium in their oral cavity at some time with the possible result of unhealthy plaque deposits on their teeth. You may not even be aware of it. Signs generally don’t appear until it’s in the advanced stages. However, with proper daily maintenance for your pet’s teeth, occasional inspections of teeth and gum condition, and annual dental checkups with your veterinarian, you can easily prevent your dog, or cat, from falling victim to a periodontal disease.   

Note: This article is provided as informational only and is not suggesting medical advice to a pet owner. Always consult with your veterinarian for advice and any diagnosis of your pet.

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