Have you ever met a dog whose owner said, “My dog never barks”? If so, that dog may have dental disease. Lack of dental treatment can cause Canine dental disease that can lead to swelling of the jaw and other disorders. Veterinarians nationwide agree that many dogs suffer broken or rotten teeth when they do not receive proper dental care during their life span.
Most dogs should have their teeth and gums examined on a yearly basis to help prevent gum disease and tooth loss. Many veterinarians suggest routine scraping and cleaning at least every 3 years, which is surprising to a lot of dog owners.
Owners can brush their dogs’ teeth with chicken-flavored toothpaste and a soft bristle brush (soft, so that the gum tissue is not scraped or broken open during brushing). Most owners find that starting early in the pet’s life is the easiest way to train the dog not to chew the toothbrush and to view the cleaning time as play, or at least an acceptable activity in the dog’s mind. That doesn’t necessarily mean that brushing is a no-go with older dogs, it just may take some time for them to get the idea.
Plaque-Blast, or other similar products may be used if brushing is not well-tolerated by the dog. There is not a great deal of clinical data available at this time, so you need to consider that side effects may arise in the future.
If your dog has “good” teeth, regular use of a cleaning dental treat such as Greenies or Milk-Bone can go a long way to preventing plaque build-up. But it is no substitute for regular dental checkups at the vet.
Conventional dental cleaning like humans receive is also an option. This procedure involves anesthesia so it is important to consider the general health and age of the dog before choosing this treatment. It also means leaving your dog for at least half a day, so if the dog experiences anxiety in cages or away from you, it may need a sedative. Your veterinarian should be able to determine if this step is necessary.
How can you tell if your dog needs help with its teeth? Check the teeth as you would a child, looking for yellowing near the gum line, broken or chipped teeth, red gums, or reduced appetite. If the dog has chronic halitosis (bad breath), gum disease or tooth loss has probably already occurred and a visit to the vet will be required to discuss treatment.
Neglecting your dog’s teeth can result in tooth loss, jaw swelling, or even jaw bone loss. Check your dog’s teeth and make an appointment with the vet if necessary. Don’t let your pet suffer toothaches, difficulty eating, or even the ability to bark. After all, a dog’s bark is the main way they communicate with each other…just imagine if your mouth hurt so badly that you couldn’t talk!