Tuesday's Tip: Keeping Clean K9 Teeth
Conventional wisdom tells us that a dog’s breath is not supposed to smell good. Dogs routinely “clean themselves,” chew dirty dog toys, and lick every face in the family. For those dogs with coprophagia issues, bad doggy breath can be pretty regular. To a dog, a malodorous dental situation is inconsequential when it comes to making friends with other dogs. Is it really that important that dog owners scrutinize their pets’ teeth and take action to correct or prevent any canine dental problems?
Brushing Out the Bacteria
As the American Veterinary Dental College explains, bacteria accumulate inside the mouth and cause plaque to form near teeth and the gum line. Saliva has minerals present which make the plaque harden over time, thereby becoming tarter on the teeth. When bacteria are present underneath the gum line, they solicits an immune system response in the form of white blood cells. Unfortunately, these white blood cells produce chemicals during their response that further lead to periodontal disease, which is the deterioration of bone and dental tissue. Periodontal disease in dogs doesn’t just destroy their teeth; it also negatively affects their cardiovascular system, as well as their livers and kidneys.
The best thing that pet owners can do to fight canine dental issues is to regularly brush their dogs’ teeth. This practice should be integrated into a dog’s routine while they are still puppies in order to prevent wild fear-based reactions. Over time, the dog getting its teeth brushed will submit to the activity almost completely. It’s crucial that pet owners buy a toothpaste specifically for dogs, as fluoride (an important and ubiquitous ingredient in human toothpaste) is toxic when consumed in large amounts. Pet stores also carry special tooth brushes with multiple heads, designed to make the dog tooth brushing experience faster and more effective.
Food & Supplements
A dog’s diet goes a long way to helping or hurting its dental health as well. It’s a good idea to choose a dry dog food with hard, brittle kibble pieces while avoiding canned wet food and treats from the dinner table. The act of grinding and gnashing a hard, brittle kibble will serve to scrape some tarter off of your dog’s teeth. Avoid dry dog foods that advertise chewy pieces.
In addition to your dog’s diet, it’s wise to use toys and treats as well to help in the fight against periodontal disease. Products like Greenies, Blue Bones, NutriDents, and DentaStix are designed to clean dogs’ teeth as they’re consumed. Nylabones and Kong toys are also good ideas for intense chewers as a way to foster good dental health.
Dental Month – Get a Good Deal!
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so now is the perfect time to take steps towards having a healthier pet. A bad set of teeth in your dog is correlated with numerous other health issues seemingly unrelated to the mouth. If your dog already has a severe layer of plaque and tarter on its teeth, consider scheduling a professional dental appointment. Since this month is the official one for dental health, make sure to call multiple veterinarians to find out which offices are offering discounts on this procedure during February. Most veterinarians recommend that dogs get their first dental at around four years of age. A professional dental will remove almost all of the visible tarter and plaque present on your dog’s teeth.