Dog dental care
Top picture: “On the left: Molly’s teeth before I started daily care. On the right: after about 10 days of daily care including brushing once a day followed by a dental treat, letting her chew raw bone 30 minutes a day, Four Paws Pet Dental monthly treatment and water additive. After daily care the tartar softened and I scraped it off with my hands, but a good bone would do the same job. Her gums are bleeding from brushing because the plaque made them very sensitive. I try to be very gentle around her gum line to let it heal.”
How to keep your pup’s teeth clean and my war with Molly’s tartar
I have been thinking about dogs’ dental care for a few weeks now.
Im not as diligent at brushing my dog Molly’s teeth as I would like to be. And her teeth have some plaque on it, which feels like is taking forever to get rid of. Her vet told us that if it gets worse, he will have to clean her teeth using anesthesia. Unfortunately my research shows that there is a chance of permanent health damage and even death associated with anesthesia. Obviously, Im not a big fan of this idea and Im looking for other ways to fight with plaque and tartar in dogs.
How big is the problem?
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, about 80% of dogs by the age of 3 develop gum disease; and according to the veterinarians about 85% of dogs older than 5 yo suffer from periodontal disease.
I checked the teeth of some of our pooches that we take care of, and most of them have teeth that are similar to Molly’s: there is yellow or brown build up usually on the back teeth. It’s really not a difficult task to brush dog’s teeth daily especially if she cooperates, but its not a part of our daily routine. Now my mission is to find a solution for my dog and for many other pooches that I care about.
Lets see the problem with the plaque itself. The bacteria that accumulates on the teeth close to the gums will turn into calculus and eventually cause an infection that will irritate the gums (gingivitis), and if not treated will cause periodontitis, which can cause tooth loss and will require serious veterinary intervention and can even lead to heart, kidney and other serious diseases.
Now, what solutions do we have?
- Most of the sources suggest that daily brushing is the best solution. If you cant do it daily, aim to brush your puppy’s teeth 3 times a week. Pick a brush and tooth paste that best suits you and your dog, don’t use human tooth brush or paste . ASPCA has a great article about how to brush your puppy’s teeth.
- Feeding your dog hard kibble will help with fighting build up on teeth. There are special diets that consist of big hard kibbles, that will clean dog’s teeth while chewing on it. One of the examples is diet by Hills, called T/D. Also look for special treats like Greenies. I always give Molly a good dental treat after we finish brushing her teeth.
- Raw meaty bones and rawhides do amazing job. They are absolutely natural and dogs love them. You can also find plenty of chewing toys to choose from, but avoid hard toys that can fracture your pup’s tooth.
- There are special oral hygiene kits available on the market, that may include mouth rinses, chews, water additives, breath fresheners, once a month tartar control treatments, dental wipes, sprays and gels. I tried a few products made by Four Paws Pet Dental and Home Dental Care based on their great reviews and I already start seeing improvement in Molly’s oral hygiene.
- If your dog’s tartar or gum problem is advanced, talk to your vet right away. You might decide to do the cleaning at the vet’s office, and then start taking care of your dog’s teeth regularly at home so she doesn’t have to go through the stress of professional cleaning again. Your vet can also teach you how to use special tools to remove the plaque at home.
Im taking on a challenge to restore Molly’s good oral hygiene without the doctor’s intervention. This will be a great lesson for me about how to take a better care of our best friends.