Tooth Decay in Dogs

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Tooth decay in dogs can be painful and lead to other health problems.

Age is definitely a contributing factor, as are your dog’s immune system, chewing habits and at-home dental care.

Though your pooch might not show her pearly-whites with a “smile” command like KatherinNoelle’s Weimaraner does here, it’s important to keep your dog’s teeth clean for health reasons.

Problems begin when plaque builds up on your dog’s teeth and transforms into a brownish substance, known as tartar. When this moves under the gum line, red, puffy gums develop, called gingivitis. Left untreated, this progresses into periodontal disease, causing the gums to recede and lose their function. This can eventually lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease also introduces infection, which can travel in the bloodstream to affect other organs. Read more about common dental problems in dogs.

If you’ve been brushing your dog’s teeth throughout his life, chances are his teeth are in good shape. If you haven’t, it isn’t too late to start. Since February is Pet Dental Health Month, it’s time to learn, “how do you brush a dog’s teeth.

Some dogs resist brushing, but others don’t mind it at all. If you’re just starting to brush your dog’s teeth, the first step is to pick a toothpaste. It’s important to know that you cannot use people toothpaste; people toothpaste is TOXIC to dogs. So you’ll need to buy dog toothpaste.  Start by putting a little dog toothpaste on your finger and offering it to your dog as a treat. After a few days of that, start putting your finger with dog toothpaste on it in your dog’s mouth; gently rub it in circles along your dog’s gum line.

After about a week, it’s time to introduce your dog to a toothbrush. You can use a people toothbrush if you like. Be sure to select a toothbrush for children (adult brushes are too big for many dogs’ mouths) and soft bristles. You might find a dog toothbrushto be less expensive and it’s designed specifically for dogs.

According to the National Pet Dental Association, the proper way to brush a dog’s teeth:

Position the brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth, and make small circular motions beginning at the back of the pet’s teeth, moving forward and around to the other side. Eight to ten strokes are sufficient for each area.

The ideal schedule is to brush your dog’s teeth every day. But if you can’t brush daily, make an effort to brush your dog’s teeth at least three times a week. That schedule will go a long way to preventing tooth decay in dogs. However, even if you do brush your dog’s teeth, the National Pet Dental Association recommends if you see any of these signs, set up an appointment with your vet for a professional teeth cleaning,

    • Bad breath – one of the first signs of dental disease.
    • A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line.
    • Red and swollen gums.
    • Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched.
    • Decreased appetite or difficulty eating.

Finally, Pet Education   reminds us:

Pets can have the same procedures as people: root canals, crowns, and even braces. Some veterinarians specialize in dentistry and are board-certified. New products are continually becoming available to help veterinarians and owners provide the best possible oral care for pets. February of each year is designated as Pet Dental Health Month as a way to remind owners of the importance of proper dental care.

To avoid or stall tooth decay in dogs, practice good dental care for your old pooch.

 

source: Tooth Decay in Dogs