Good Dog, Bad Teeth!
Do you know what the most common health problem
is with dogs? It’s periodontal disease. 75-80% percent of
dogs 2.5 years and older may start to have trouble with their
teeth. Tooth and gum problems can become painful and serious if
left untreated and may possibly cause your dog to become
aggressive or stop eating.
Symptoms of possible Periodontal
- Bad Breath
- Yellow or spotty teeth
- Swollen gums
- Difficulty in chewing
- Weight loss
- Broken or missing teeth
- Nasal and eye discharge
- Blood in the saliva
- Tearing or swelling below one eye
How does your dog get periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease starts with plaque. This is the white
film that accumulates on our teeth. If the plaque is not
removed through regular tooth brushing, it will mineralize
(harden) and turn into tartar. As the tartar builds, the
plaque continues to accumulate and infect the gums. Plaque
and bacteria unchecked over time can enter the bloodstream
and cause disease in the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
How can periodontal disease
Unfortunately, periodontal disease cannot be reversed. It
can, however, be slowed or stopped with proper dental care.
There are several things you can do to prevent this disease
from affecting your best friend. At least once a week you
should brush your dog’s teeth and feed a nutritionally
balanced dry diet, void of wheat and corn that can act as
sugar between the teeth and cause decay.
You can purchase toothbrushes made
especially for dogs, or you can use a soft child’s
toothbrush, a finger toothbrush, a gauze pad around a finger,
or a cotton swab. Use toothpaste specially formulated for
dogs and focus on the back molars as they tend to develop
plaque more quickly than frontal teeth. Dog toothpaste
contains ingredients that continue to be effective in
preventing decay long after brushing. Most toothpastes have a
special food flavoring to make it more appealing to your dog.
Stay away from human toothpaste, baking soda or salt, as many
dogs don’t like the taste, and these products might
possibly upset their digestive systems or create an allergic
Feed a nutritionally balanced diet,
preferably dry. A hard, crunchy premium food will scrape
against the teeth and help to inhibit bacteria from
Provide dental chew toys and chew
items. Not only are they fun for your dog, he doesn’t
even realize how good they are for him. Supply your dog with
plenty of “teeth cleaning” chew toy and bones,
especially knobby toys, rope toys and floss toys. Rawhide is
another chew item that rubs against the dog’s teeth and
removes harmful plaque, but I advise against rawhide as it
swells to five times the size in your dog’s stomach and
can take two weeks to digest, posing the threat of intestinal
blockage. So a great alternative to rawhide is pork skin.
Anything you can find in the form of rawhide, you can now
find in pork skin. It’s easily digestible, more
nutritional and still provides a great tartar scraping effect
on the teeth.
Lastly, get regular dental exams by a
veterinarian and schedule your dog for a yearly teeth
cleaning. With a little effort, your dog could end up having
a smile as good as yours!
- Written by Colleen Paige
With over two decades of expertise as a dog trainer and
animal behaviorist, Colleen teaches people to be kind to
their dogs using love and leadership in combination with
“speaking” dog language. A columnist for Fido
Friendly and regular guest expert for many national
magazines, TV and radio programs, she also founded National
Dog Day, (August 26th)! Check out Colleen's new book,
Behavior Book for Dogs.