Your dog’s mouth is extremely important. Not only does he need his mouth to chew and swallow food, but he also uses his mouth to pick up items and play with toys. By ignoring oral health, your dog may be at a higher risk of developing periodontal disease. This will contribute to bad breath, oral pain, and tooth loss. In severe cases, dogs can develop bone infections of the jaw, and bacteria from the mouth can travel to the heart via the bloodstream. It is estimated that more than 67% of dogs in the United States have periodontal disease.
Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth daily. If this is not possible, consider brushing their teeth at least three times a week. You can use any soft bristle toothbrush but make sure that the toothpaste you’ve purchased is one that is labeled for dogs. Enzymatic toothpaste are particularly effective and come in tasty flavors like poultry or peanut butter. Oral rinses and dental chews can also help remove plaque and minimize tartar accumulation.
Most veterinarians also recommend yearly dental prophylaxes to remove plaque and tartar from beneath the gum line. This is not possible without general anesthesia, which means that “awake” dental cleanings are not effective due to the disease left below the gumline. Dental x-rays can also identify early tooth disease before the onset of a painful tooth root abscess can occur.
Do not feel bad if you’ve ignored one of the details on this list – better late than never! Pet owners who are proactive regarding their dog’s care benefit from a happy pup and fewer vet bills. Preventive medicine, exercise, good nutrition, and socialization can greatly improve the quality of life for your furry friend.