Brushing your teeth at least
once a day is part of your daily routine, right? You know
that if you donít take care of your teeth and gums, youíll
develop dental disease as a result of tartar buildup and
Well, the same is true for your dog. While you canít teach
your dog to brush his own teeth, there are things you can
do to ensure a healthy mouth for your best friend. The
real danger of tartar buildup, also known as calculus,
is that it can lead to gum disease. According to the American
Veterinary Medical Association, 85 percent of all dogs
over age 4 have some form of gum disease.
This is due to the fact that the tartar adheres to the
dogís tooth and ends up under the gum. If the tartar isnít
removed, it eventually pushes the gums away from the roots
of the teeth, forming pockets where bacteria can take hold.
This can cause an infection, which can lead to gum disease.
But gum disease isnít the only
dental danger for your pooch. Lack of proper dental care can
also cause your dog to develop conditions such as gingivitis,
tonsillitis and pharyngitis. These are serious illnesses that
can cause bad breath, tooth loss, and, worst of all, bacterial
infections, which can spread to vital organs, such as the lungs,
heart, kidneys and liver.
To know if your dog is suffering from poor dental care, look
for symptoms like mouth odor or bleeding and swollen gums.
He may also experience pain when he eats.
What can you do?
Prevention is the best medicine. When you take your dog to
the veterinarian for his annual check-up, make sure it includes
a thorough dental exam. If tartar buildup is severe or there
are problems, your vet may recommend a cleaning, which usually
involves general anesthesia.
You can avoid costly veterinarian bills through good oral
hygiene for your dog:
- Brushing: You can use a piece of gauze wrapped around
your index finger or a canine toothbrush from a pet supply
store. Be sure to use toothpaste made especially for dogs
(also available at pet supply stores), since dogs swallow
after brushing instead of rinsing.
- Food: Include dry kibble in your dogís diet, and make
sure it is a high-quality food. Coarse food can help
tartar as your dog eats. Check out our section on nutrition.
- Chews: Provide your dog with the right kind of chew toys
will help clean his teeth as he plays. While GRRMF does
not recommend rawhide, there are many kinds of chews
designed to help remove tartar as your dog gnaws on them.As always, supervise your pet whenever he chews.