One of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet ownership is the importance of oral health care in dogs. It’s hard to believe, but dogs are prone to many of the same health concerns and conditions that we, as humans, face. The frightening part is that, while dogs are equally prone to gingivitis and tooth decay, few receive the oral health care of their human counterparts – When’s the last time you took your Husky in for a tooth cleaning?
My Lesson in Canine Oral Health Care
My lesson about the importance of oral health care in dogs came after I adopted my Boston Terrier from the local S.P.C.A. Cute as a button and sweet as could be, Rube immediately stole our hearts – but he had this horrible habit of trying to lick faces. Saying that Rube had “doggie breath” was putting it mildly. You could leave a tuna salad sandwich in a hot and stuffy room for a week, give it a sniff and it would smell like roses when compared to Rube’s breath. This was something that no canine breath mints could cover.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that a good portion of my hound’s halitosis could be due to a lack of dog dental care! Even more importantly, I learned that neglecting a dog’s oral health care could result in gum disease, unnecessary pain for my pet, tooth loss and could even lead to liver and kidney disease. Fortunately, providing good oral health care in dogs is neither costly nor time-consuming. In fact, it can be summed up in a couple of easy steps.
Step-by-Step Oral Health Care for Dogs
Brushing is Best. Brushing is one of the best methods we have for cleaning our teeth and the same goes for our canine companions. Brushing your dog’s teeth every other day will not only help with the doggie breath, but it also removes harmful bacteria and plaque from his teeth as well as massaging the gums. Just be sure to use a special dog toothpaste for the job (human toothpaste can actually poison your pet) or, if you want a more natural method, you can make a paste of baking soda and water, using a soft cloth to wipe it on and then off your dog’s teeth.
Careful With the Kibble. Diet is another commonly overlooked aspect of oral health care in dogs – remember how they say “You are what you eat?” Dogs are also affected by their diet. Always be sure to discuss your particular dog’s nutritional needs with your veterinarian and see what he suggests is best for your canine companion.
Would You Brush With a Cookie? Of course not! But we give our dogs a biscuit and expect that this to keep their teeth clean. Instead of feeding your pampered pooch a canine cookie, try giving them a nylon or rubber chew toy – chewing on these tough toys will help to stimulate and massage the gums as well as increasing salivation. Dog saliva will help to clean the teeth between brushings and wash away some of the bacteria that clings to his teeth.
Schedule a checkup. Regular veterinarian visits are as important to our four-legged friends as our own doctor’s exams. The next time you take your dog in for his vaccinations and booster shots, be sure to ask your veterinarian about tooth cleaning and the importance of oral health care for pets. He’s sure to offer you some good suggestions as well.
There’s more to owning a pet than simply providing food and water. While dog dental care is commonly overlooked, more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of oral health care in dogs and how it helps to keep our pets happy and healthy. Taking a few minutes out of your day can add years to your cherished pet’s life span. Isn’t he worth it?
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