By Angie Picardo for Pet News and Views
If you’re like most pet owners, then you can never turn away an old fashioned sloppy kiss from your dog. That big goofy canine smile seems to brighten up the day. However, many people often overlook the fact that a dog’s teeth play a vital role in their overall health.
Gum and tooth diseases contribute to other health problems, including heart disease. When your dog eats, food and bacteria can potentially collect around the gum line and harden into tartar in only a few days. If left unchecked, a dog can contract gingivitis, which can be identified by a reddening of the gums. From there, the dog may contract periodontal disease, where spaces form under the teeth, creating breeding grounds for bacteria. In severe cases, a dog’s gums can recede to the point that his tooth’s roots will be visible.
If you notice any of the following signs, contact your vet, as they may be signs of periodontal disease or a number of other dental diseases:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Pawing at the muzzle
- Heavy tartar crust along the gum line
- Growths in the mouth
- Discoloration of the teeth
- Loose teeth
- Excessive drooling
Veterinarians have special dental tools that allow for the deep cleaning and removal of plaque. Often these procedures can get costly, and in some cases require anesthesia. Having your dog’s teeth cleaned is a necessary hassle, and will save you money in the long run. If your dog develops a severe case of periodontal disease, then expensive surgeries and tooth removal may be unfortunate options. As a rule, smaller dogs and brachiocephalic breeds like pugs and bulldogs need cleaning annually. Bigger dogs can go a bit longer without having their teeth cleaned. There are a few things you can do to make sure their teeth stay as clean as they possibly can and extend their lives at the same time.
Canine Preventative Dental Care:
Start checking your dog’s teeth at a young age. By four years old your pet can have serious issues.
- Check your dog’s teeth once a week for the signs of disease and tartar buildup.
- Dog toothbrushes are available at local pet stores, so you can brush your dog’s teeth. Dogs cannot use the same toothpaste as humans. Instead you can use baking soda and water, or buy dog toothpaste at the vet or local pet store. Also, you can clean your dog’s teeth with gauze wrapped around your finger.
- There are chew bones and toys on the market made specifically for the purpose of cleaning your dog’s teeth and reducing bad breath.
Remember to always treat your dog’s health with the same respect you do to your own health. Following these easy steps will ensure that your dog’s teeth are clean; plus, you’ll appreciate their kisses a lot more knowing that they are healthy and disease free.
Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping customers find the best credit cards.