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Keeping a Smile on Their Faces

25/01/2013

We brush our own teeth twice a day yet we still go to the dentist every 6 months for a check up.  Brushing your dog’s teeth is more difficult to do but it’s still really important to keep a regular check on the state of their mouth.

 

Gum disease is actually one of the most common problems that vets see.  The problems begin when plaque and tartar build up on your dog’s teeth.  Plaque harbours bacteria which can infect gum tissue and the roots of teeth, making the mouth sore, causing disease and tooth loss.  The bacteria can also enter the blood stream and may cause damage to internal organs.

Why looking after your dog’s teeth is so important?

  • Liver, kidney and heart disease – dental infections may lead to these diseases if left untreated
  • Shortened life expectancy – poor dental health can shorten the life of your pet
  • Bad breath – a result of neglected teeth and gums
  • Unpleasant looking teeth – teeth can look nasty and harbour bacteria
  • Weight loss – bad teeth and infected gums can lead to a reduced appetite

 

Caring for your dog’s teeth?

At Vets4Pets, our vets will check your dog’s teeth at every veterinary consultation and also during the health-assessment carried out at vaccinations.  If you’re not sure when your dog’s teeth were last checked or you think there may be a problem, simply book an appointment at your local Vets4Pets practice for a check-up.

Once the vet has examined the teeth, they may discuss with you an oral hygiene programme that you can carry out at home.  This might involve regular tooth brushing or a special diet designed to help keep the teeth clean, or they might suggest you give your dog dental chews.

Regular tooth brushing is the most effective way of preventing future build up of plaque and you may find it much easier than you thought to brush your dog’s teeth!  Special toothbrushes and toothpastes designed for dogs are available which appeal to dogs and do not need to be rinsed. Human toothpastes should not be used as they contain ingredients which should not be swallowed.

How to brush your dog’s teeth

The first step is to pick a time when both you and your dog are relaxed.  For the first few days simply hold your dog, as you would normally do when you are petting him or her. Gently stroke the outside of the cheeks with your finger for a minute or two.  After each session, reward your dog with an appropriate treat and lots of praise.  For the next few days – after your dog has become comfortable with this activity – place a small amount of the toothpaste on your finger and let your dog sample the flavour.  Next, introduce your dog to an animal toothbrush or finger brush.

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