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Dental care for dogs

Believe it or not, taking care of your dog's teeth is as important as looking after your own. It is critical for your pet's overall health to have proper dental care.

Plaque and Tartar

Saliva. Proteins, bacteria and food particles combine to form plaque that will gradually build up if left on the teeth. Minerals in his saliva will then turn it into tartar, a hard yellowish deposit that accumulates around the gum line. Tartar can irritate gums and lead to gingivitis, which is the beginning of periodontal disease.

An age old problem

This can be a serious issue as dogs grow older. Bacteria and toxins attack the tooth, bone, gum and connective tissue around the tooth, which can lead to serious infection and the tooth falling out.

The bacteria that cause infection can also be distributed to the lungs, liver, kidney and heart if they get into the bloodstream.

So taking care of your dog's teeth will not only lead to a healthier pet, but also help you avoid expensive dental bills.

Tell-tale signs

Your vet will be able to spot any problems during your dog's annual check-up, but until then, here are some things to look out for:

  • Yellow and brown tartar deposits on the gum line
  • Difficulty eating
  • Swollen and bleeding gums
  • Bad breath

Remember, dogs can have bad breath for a variety of health reasons so don't' dismiss a foul smell as plain old doggy breath.

A good brush

So how to take care of your dog's teeth? Well, in much the same way as you take care of your own; regular brushing, a good diet and the occasional check-up. Brushing will be easier if you begin while they are still young, although a dog of any age will eventually get used to it.

Don't use toothpaste designed for people, dogs become distressed by the foam and it might upset their stomachs. There are pastes specially designed for pets that are safer and they will like the taste much better.

Depending on the size of your dog's teeth and mouth you may be able to use a regular toothbrush. There are however, specially designed brushes that fit on your finger to make brushing easier. Ask your vet what he or she would recommend.

Easy does it

To get your dog used to having his teeth brushed; start with plenty of reassurance to calm him down. Let him have a tiny taste of the toothpaste then gently massage hit teeth to get him used to the sensation.

He might not like it at first, but be patient, you'll get there in the end.

Brush in a circular motion, paying particular attention to where the tooth meets the gum. Then, when you're almost finished, brush vertically towards the inside of his mouth to clear any plaque you've dislodged.

You should brush your dog's teeth at least once a week but once a day is best.

Brushing alternatives

There are specially formulated dog foods and dog treats that can reduce tartar and avoid the onset of periodontal disease.

This is the simplest way of making sure your dog gets some form of 'brushing' each day.

Talk to your vet to see if they have a particular food or method they prefer. Remember though, that keeping your dog's teeth in good condition is essential for his overall health.


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