Friday, October 25, 2013

doggie dental health

This is a topic I think is unfortunately often over-looked when it comes to Pet Parents. Most parents focus on the food, weight and flea control of their pets and they forget, or don't realize that dental health is essential to a healthy pet! Here's why:

1) By the age of 2, most dogs have periodontal disease that could easily be avoided by teeth brushing.

2) Periodontal disease can lead to an array of terrible diseases and afflictions, like halitosis, gingivitis, tooth loss and even heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease and blood infections.

3) Teeth brushing can help cut back on that terrible "old dog" mouth smell that many older pets have.

4) Professional teeth cleaning in older pets can be expensive and often requires the pet to be anesthetized. This is expensive AND dangerous, especially for older dogs.

For all these reasons and more, teeth brushing is important and essential... and it's pretty easy too!
To start, a regular dental regiment is important- we brush every day, but you can brush twice a week if daily doesn't fit into your schedule. The more, the better though. There are a lot of different kinds of toothpaste, but I always use enzymatic toothpaste because of how it's designed. Enzymatic toothpaste is non-foaming but will still spread throughout the mouth to break down food proteins and build up. Plus, it's specifically designed to be swallowed and digested, so you don't have to worry about your pet "rinsing". Never use people toothpaste on your pet- it can make them nauseous and often have harsh substances like baking soda in them that your pet will not be able to handle.
There are also a lot of different kinds of toothbrushes you can use, including finger brushes, but I can never use them- they're always too big for my finger and they slide right off in my pet's mouth. However, NEVER use a toothbrush that has been made for people on your pet- they are TOO hard. Even "extra soft" bristles will be too rough for your pet's mouth. Be sure you keep the toothbrush clean, and to have one for each pet.
Radar doesn't particularly enjoy having his teeth brushed, even though we have been brushing since he was a puppy So with Radar, we do the "problem area' method. That mean brushing the back teeth on the outside, in the back of the cheek. That's where your pet's salivary glands are and those gland will secrete extra enzymes in that area of the mouth. That mean pushing the brush to the outside back of the mouth, between the teeth and the cheek and brushing- on both sides of the mouth for about 30 seconds- or until he shakes his head and knocks the brush out of his mouth. If he's being amiable, I try to go to the inside portion of the teeth closer to the tongue as well.
Nora looks skeptical here, but she actually had just finished licking the toothbrush. She likes it! Although, I suspect she really just likes the taste of the toothpaste. In her case, I can brush all her teeth, including the canines and front teeth nice and sparkly white and she'll sit through the whole experience.

In any case, keeping a regular dental routine is important, but it's not a substitute for an actual dental visit, especially as your pet gets older. However, regular teeth brushings and dental care can help keep your pet health, happy and best of all- no bad breath!