Is your dog’s bad breath sabotaging your cuddle time?
Is your kitty drooling while nibbling her kibble? If so, your four-legged family member likely has dental disease. Banfield Pet Hospital’s 770-hospital network study identified dental disease as the most common malady among pets. It affects 68% of cats and 78% of dogs over three years of age.
What causes dental disease?
Most dental diseases, including halitosis (bad breath) and gingivitis (gum disease), are caused by tartar accumulation.
All cats and dogs can develop dental tartar, but small breed dogs are particularly predisposed. According to the Banfield study, toy Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Pomeranians, and Shetland Sheepdogs are at the greatest risk.
Inspect your dog’s teeth and gums on a regular basis just as you would his or her skin and haircoat.
Check your dog’s mouth
Here’s the key to getting a good look.
Don’t try to pry your dog’s jaws open lest you desire to engage in a wrestling match. Rather, with the mouth remaining closed, pull those flabby lips up, down, and then back (as if he is smiling). That way, you get a good view of the gums and teeth.
Things to look for:
- tartar accumulation (brown-colored material that’s adhered to the teeth)
- redness or swelling of the gums, and
- broken or loose teeth
If your dog does develop significant tartar and gingivitis, he’ll need a thorough dental cleaning.
Your veterinarian might recommend x-rays to detect abscesses or bone loss. Should they reveal such significant abnormalities, your vet will discuss antibiotic therapy and the pros and cons of removing the affected teeth versus a root canal procedure.
The best way to prevent tartar buildup is to brush your dog’s teeth (including those way in the back) at least two to three times a week.
Ask your vet or members of the clinic staff to share their secrets for success when it comes to brushing. Have them observe and provide critique as you demonstrate how you brush those canines (in cats they should be called “felines”), incisors, and molars.
Dental disease prevention
What can you do besides brushing?
Dental chews, additives to your dog’s water, products applied to the teeth and gums, and specially formulated dry foods that have received the Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Acceptance can help prevent tartar buildup. However, nothing beats regular brushing (sorry!).
Part of your dog’s annual physical examination performed by your veterinarian should include careful inspection of the teeth and gums.
Early identification and treatment of dental disease go a long way in preventing serious consequences.
Now it’s your turn to talk about teeth. What have you experienced with your dog?
The Financial Wisdom of Disease Prevention