Dental health in canines

Dogs need regular dental care just like their human companions. Dental problems, cracked or broken teeth, and periodontal concerns are among the top health problems in dogs, after obesity. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, eighty percent of our canine companions will exhibit some evidence of dental disease by three years of age. In their lifetime, dogs have two sets of teeth. The first, “milk teeth” number 28, followed by a complete set to last the entire life of the adult dog, numbering 42.

We might laugh when we are told that one of the primary defenses in maintaining good canine dental health, is to brush your dog’s teeth. Getting the animal accustomed to having your fingers in his mouth is simple if begun at a very early age. Begin gently by massaging the dog’s face and outer mouth. Gradually work your way into his mouth. With each short session, be sure to encourage with positive comments and end with a small treat so that there is a good feeling for the next time. This is something that can be taught to your dog.

Tartar build up and the accumulation of plaque along the gum line results in gingivitis, and inflammation of the gums. This can lead to far more serious diseases including heart problems, or in the extreme, may even result in the death of your canine companion. If your dog’s diet includes only soft foods that leave remnants behind in the pockets at the gumline, decay will follow. This accumulated debris can cause inflammation, swelling, receding gums, bleeding, and sensitivity to heat and cold. Similar to the periodontal diseases experienced by humans, left unattended, pockets along the canine’s gum line deepen as the gums soften, and bacteria continues to erode the mouth and teeth. If the periodontal disease is advanced, ligaments and bone are likely affected and the dog will be likely to lose the teeth or tooth involved.

The moisture inside the dog’s mouth is an ideal environment for the development of bacteria which are able to flow down the throat and into the stomach, intestines, and throughout the bloodstream, causing massive, systemic infection.

Tooth and gum problems are signaled by changes in the way a dog chews, bad breath, swollen or inflamed gums, facial swelling, worn teeth, bleeding gums, and loose or discolored teeth. Share this information with your veterinarian immediately if you discover any unusual growths or strange lumps in the dog’s mouth, around or under the tongue, or on the gums.

It is possible that infection has invaded the immune system of your canine. A compromised immune system may indicate heart problems, serious bacterial infection, kidney disease or endocarditis, which is an inflammation of the inside lining of the heart chambers and heart valves.

Choose an appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste, being careful to avoid the use of human pastes of any type. Xylitol, which is often an ingredient in human toothpaste as a sweetening agent, is toxic to dogs and should be avoided. Human pastes also have a foaming agent which is not necessary for dogs.

And, as humans, we know not to ingest the toothpaste and are able to spit and rinse. Dogs do not know about these behaviors. Finally, the use of human toothpastes for canines may cause him serious gastric distress. There are specifically designed dental pastes for dogs that range in flavor choices from chicken to parsley, fennel, and mint.

Tooth and dental health are very important for your dog through every age and stage of their life. If you take preventative measures and watch how you care for your dog’s teeth, the pearly whites will last a life time. Brush up on how to care for your canine pal’s teeth. There are a number of commercial products available in flavors to please all dogs.

If you find that your dog is completely resistant to the notion of having your fingers inside his mouth, don’t despair! There are numerous ideas for chew toys for dogs, natural chew treats and even flossy products that your dog can play with and keep his teeth clean at the same time.