Dental care for dogs
Your pet dog may need dental treatment with age. This can be costly for you and stressful for your pet.
Making sure you feed your dog a sensible diet is a must but some dogs, like some people, are more prone to dental plaque and associated problems.
Getting into the habit of cleaning your dog's teeth may not be easy but it could be cost effective and save your beloved pet the terrible pain of toothache and pain following tooth extraction.
Brushing a dog's teeth is never easy but, depending on your dog and its diet, it may be very necessary.
Poor oral hygiene can ultimately add to health problems and could affect the animal’s heart. Dogs hide their pain well and so your pet could be suffering a fair amount of pain or discomfort before you realise it has a problem.
Firstly think about what you are feeding your dog. Dogs should not have sugary and sweet treats. They are not good for their health, or their teeth. Many of the proprietary treats that claim to help clean a dog's teeth either do not work well, or are laden in calories with high amounts of protein. The first will make your dog fat and the second may make it hyperactive, so both are best avoided.
Many dogs love raw carrots and apples and vets often recommend these as a healthy treat, which will not damage a dog's teeth and may help clean them a little. Make sure though that your dog does not consume any apple pips.
Dogs usually love cheese also which can clean teeth a little but this is not really good food for a dog as it is full of fat. Obviously the occasional treat should do no harm, but give plenty of thought to your dog's diet for the sake of its teeth, weight, health and your bank balance. After all many shop bought dog treats are quite expensive.
So what is the best way to actually clean a dog's teeth, if and when you have to?
The best way is to introduce your dog to teeth cleaning when it is a puppy. That way it will get used to you touching its mouth, teeth and gums.
Normal toothpaste is not appropriate for cleaning your dog's teeth. Sometimes it may even make your dog ill or cause an allergic reaction.
Most veterinary surgeries and pet shops will sell proprietary dog toothpaste which is often meat flavoured, such as chicken and ham. These are less foaming than people toothpaste. The bonus is that dogs love this meaty toothpaste.
The first time you want to clean your dog's teeth just try placing the brush briefly in your dog's mouth. Use the smallest toothbrush available. Then try again later with a small amount of dog toothpaste on the brush. Gradually build up the time spent cleaning your dog's teeth.
Give the dog a chance to get used to the general feel of tooth cleaning and to understand that this practice will not harm him or her.
Either buy a child's toothbrush or a specific dog toothbrush, as you will only want to use a relatively small brush.
Finger tooth pads are useful for cleaning dog’s teeth. These are very convenient. They resemble finger caps which are sometimes used in offices to aid filing. The difference is there are small bristles on one side.
They can be purchased cheaply from veterinary surgeries. You simply slip this finger brush onto your index finger and then slip your finger into the dog's mouth. Most dogs seem to prefer this to a brush, as such. It is gentler, will reach even the back teeth and can access problem areas.
Do not forget though that despite your best efforts, just like people, some dogs will produce more tartar than others and may need some dental work.
Also as a dog ages teeth can become cracked and worn. Most vets will offer a scaling and polishing service for a dog's teeth. They will also be able to remove decaying teeth, if necessary.
Remember though that the dog will need to have anaesthetic and so the fewer times such treatment has to be done the better.
Overall try to establish a basic teeth cleaning routine for your dog as, in the long term, it will save you money on costly veterinarian bills and will save your much loved pet unnecessary suffering and pain.
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