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Dog Dental Care

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Do you realize the importance of good dog dental care for your pet’s teeth? This need increases as the dog ages, and it’s best to start when your dog is young.

Many dogs do not like their mouths touched. You need to desensitize your dog to having his mouth touched at a young age, because the veterinarian is always going to examine your dog’s mouth.

The best way for you to get your dog used to having his mouth touched is to begin touching it when you first get your puppy. Make sure to touch the lips, open the mouth, and touch the teeth in a calm and relaxing way for about five minutes each day until your puppy is used to being handled in this way. Make this routine a regular part of your interaction with your dog so he remains calm when preventive dental care is needed.

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Most veterinarians recommend brushing your dog’s teeth regularly. Many manufacturers make special dog toothpaste and toothbrushes. Regular brushing helps prevent the buildup of calculus and debris on your dog’s teeth. Do not use human toothpaste on dogs as it may be harmful to them.

If your dog is not used to having his mouth touched, introduce a brushing program gradually. At first, dip your finger into beef bouillon and rub the soaked finger gently over the pet’s mouth and teeth. Make the initial sessions short and positive. Praise and reassure your dog throughout the process. Gradually, introduce gauze over the finger and gently scrub the teeth in a circular motion.

Another way to get started: Put a dab of dog toothpaste on a cotton ball and rub it over your dog’s teeth. Dogs usually find dog toothpaste tasty. You can then try a finger brush, available at your veterinarian’s office or pet supply store. Eventually, especially for larger breeds, you want to use a regular dog toothbrush.

Another method of dog dental care is using beef jerky bones or other special dental health food specially formulated for dental care. Look for the Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council, which appears on products that meet defined standards for plaque and tartar control in dogs.

Dental Cleanings

Even with proper dog dental care, most dogs eventually need a dental cleaning from your veterinarian. If your veterinarian recommends a dental cleaning, it is important that you follow through. If your dog develops dental disease, harmful bacteria can pass into his bloodstream causing potentially serious problems such as kidney and heart valve infections.

A dental cleaning performed by your veterinarian is much like a humandental cleaning, however your dog will be sedated. The anesthesia is light and with today’s technology is safe. Many veterinarians have anesthesiamonitoring systems just like those used in human medicine.

The vet does a thorough exam to determine if any teeth need to be pulled or repaired. Some veterinarians do x-rays of the teeth to find any cracks or diseased teeth. Then, a trained member of the veterinary staff does adental cleaning. First, the staff member scales the teeth to remove the tartar above and below the gum line, using both hand instruments and ultrasonic scaling equipment. Then, the teeth are polished, which makes them smooth and helps prevent plaque from adhering to them.

Most veterinarians also do a fluoride treatment to help strengthen the enamel and prevent plaque from forming. Some veterinarians who specialize in dog dental care perform root canals and other intensive dental work, when needed.

It’s important to provide good dog dental care to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and to prevent infections. Always follow your veterinarian’s advice and if you have further questions, consult your veterinary staff or petprofessional.

Updated: November 9, 2012 — 3:42 pm

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