Practicing good oral hygiene is as important to our foot-legged friends as it is to people. Did you know that dogs can not only suffer tooth decay and tooth loss, but they can also develop Gingivitis? It’s true! In fact, Gingivitis in dogs is almost as common a problem as it is in humans. If left untreated, this condition can grow more serious, leading to serious problems in your pet’s health.
What is Canine Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, which occurs when plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth. The bacteria that sits there then produces a toxin which irritates and, over time, can cause an inflammation of the gums. Left untreated, this condition can worsen – eventually causing damage to the teeth, jaw and to the dog’s internal organs.
Classic signs of gingivitis include red, swollen or irritated-looking gums. Sometimes, the gums will become more inflammed or even bleed if the dog eats crunchy kibble or chews on a bone and, in more advanced stages, the gums will receed back and give the teeth an elongated appearance. Chronic bad breath is another classic symptom of Canine Gingivitis; if you want to avoid doggie breath, be sure to check your Chihuahua’s chompers! From personal experience, I can say that ever since I began brushing my Boston Terrier’s teeth, his nasty doggie breath has disappeared – it really does help.
Treating Gingivitis in Pets
Fortunately, Gingivitis can be treated if caught soon enough. There are several things that you can do to help treat Gingivitis in dogs, as well as taking preventative measures to ensure that the Canine Gingivitis does not reoccur.
The most important thing that you can do is brush your dog’s teeth at least every other day. While many pet foods and dog treats contribute to a good canine dental care regimen, you can’t substitute these for basic good oral hygiene. Brushing your dog’s teeth will only take a few minutes, every other day, and will help to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Ensure your pet has a good diet. Good nutrition is essential to the health of any pet and a poor diet can cause many health issues. Dogs who are fed a good quality diet, and are exposed to a mixture of both dry and wet food, tend to have fewer problems with Gingivitis than dogs that are fed a low-quality pet food. A higher quality pet food may be a bit more pricey, but it’s an important investment in the health of your four-legged family member.
Chew toys protect more than your slippers. Providing your dog with safe rubber or nylon chew toys will help to stimulate the teeth, gums and cause your dog to salivate more, which will help to clean the teeth. Some brands of dog chew toys even allow you to put treats inside of them, further promoting your dog’s salivation and chewing tendencies. Providing safe dog chew toys is one of the best ways you have of preventing canine gingivitis.
If your dog has advanced Gingivitis, your veterinarian may suggest a thorough cleaning of the teeth, known as ultrasonic scaling. Cleaning the teeth both above and below the gumline, combined with tooth polishing, can help to reverse the affects of the beginning stages of Gingivitis. Just note that, if the Gingivitis is advanced, your veterinarian may suggest further workups, such as bloodwork, x-rays and even a biopsy.
Preventative medicine is always the best route to take – learn how to properly care for your pet and provide good dog dental care. Taking a few minutes every other day will help to protect your pet’s health as well as saving you costly veterinarian bills. Get brushing!
Personal experience as a long-time pet owner and breeder
Dogpro – http://www.dogpro.com/gingivitis-in-dogs.html – Informative article on gingivitis in dogs
Petplace – http://www.petplace.com/dogs/gingivitis-in-dogs/page1.aspx – Treating advanced gingivitis