Creating Your Dog Dental Care Program

The Best Dog Dental Care The best dog dental care program involves a proper diet, daily brushing, professional cleanings and yearly veterinary examinations. You must create a dog dental care program as soon as you add a dog or puppy to your family. This program needs to include: * a daily brushing * ensuring a healthy diet * periodic inspection of your dog's mouth * providing dog dental treats and toys * veterinary care The Importance of Dog Dental Care After a dog eats, bacteria join the food particles and cling to the surface of the teeth forming plaque. If the plaque remains on the teeth, in three days it hardens forming tartar. Tartar irritates gums causing pockets of bacteria between the teeth and gums. This bacterial infection is the key reason some dogs have bad breath. Left untreated, the bacteria makes teeth fall out and causes abscesses in the gums. Periodontal disease affects 75 percent of dogs reaching middle age. Veterinary studies found that dogs with congestive heart failure usually had untreated periodontal disease. Your Dog's Diet Dogs' digestive systems easily handle grains and proteins. Fillers like corn by-products, soy and wheat are unnecessary. Avoid animal by-products, which include beaks, feet, and other low-quality protein sources. Read the label on the dog food you want to purchase. Dogs need upwards of 25 percent protein and 19 percent fat. Look for ingredients like chicken/beef/lamb meal, fishmeal, brown rice, potatoes, sunflower oil and vegetables. Dry dog food scrapes plaque off teeth better than canned. Offer dog dental treats and rawhide chews between meals to help further remove plaque and tartar. Brushing Your Dog's Teeth The most important step in a good dog dental care program is a daily tooth brushing routine. If you own an electric toothbrush system like Oral-B or Sonicare, consider purchasing a separate brush head for your pet's use. These systems remove far more plaque and tartar than a traditional toothbrush. If you do not have an electric toothbrush system, a regular toothbrush will do. Brush each tooth with enzymatic toothpaste suitable for dogs. Do not use human toothpaste as they contain ingredients poisonous to a dog. Examining Your Dog's Mouth While brushing your dog's teeth as part of a dog dental care program, examine your dog's mouth for signs of periodontal disease. The key symptoms are: * bleeding gums * discolored or broken teeth * excessive drooling * foul breath * red, swollen gums * yellowish-brown tartar build up If you have concerns, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Visiting Your Veterinarian Take your dog to the vet once a year for dog dental care. If your vet does not automatically inspect the dog's mouth, ask him to. Some dogs require yearly professional dental cleanings, but others can skip a year or two. Your vet will tell you when it's time. During a professional dog teeth cleaning, the vet sedates the dog to reduce stress to the dog and potential injury to the veterinarian. There are 7 steps to the cleaning. 1. X-rays will pinpoint fractured teeth, bone loss or possible infection. 2. A bacterial rinse kills bacteria in the mouth. 3. A full inspection of each tooth checks for cracks and infection around the gum line. 4. An ultrasonic scaler removes tartar from the teeth and gum line using ultrasonic waves. 5. A special rinse finds any tartar the vet may have missed. If there is some, the scaler removes any tartar that remains. 6. A tooth polisher removes small scratches where bacteria cling. 7. A final anti-bacterial rinse removes particles and bacteria that remain. After your dog awakens, your vet will discuss his findings and suggest changes or additions to your home dental care routine.