Dental care is important responsibility for pet owners, but
too many owners are not familiar with the steps to maintaining the dental hygiene of their dog. Your dogs’ mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria, and even though their natural defense systems are very effective, certain issues can spiral out of control if not recognized and treated.
Most diseases of the mouth start with the formation of gingivitis. This is a reddening or swelling of the gums that is often caused by a buildup of plaque and tarter on the teeth. While the initial stages of gingivitis are easy to treat, more advanced complications include tooth loss and jaw bone infections. Early warning signs of this condition include bad breath, gum bleeding, and even a change in eating patterns as a result of mouth pain.
Preventing gingivitis and the onset of more severe conditions can be done by proactively monitoring your dogs’ dental health. This starts with the type of food you feed them. It is important to include plenty of dry food in the diet. Dry food helps to eliminate plaque and tarter through the natural chewing process. Even if your dog typically eats canned food, you can integrate a dry option by mixing it with the canned products or by offering canned food at only one of their meals.
Water is another essential part of doggie dental care since it provides the fluoride used to strengthen the teeth. Tap water is actually more beneficial than bottled water because it contains a much higher level of fluoride. The average sized dog should drink between two and four cups of water a day. You can add even more benefits to drinking water by adding an oral hygiene solution to the water. These products are available at pet supply stores and are very effective at preventing problems down the road.
Beyond these simple diet tips, there are other things you can make available that will help your dog maintain a healthy mouth. There are actually toothpastes and brushes designed specifically for dogs. While it can take some time for your pet to become accustomed to the process, brushing your dogs’ teeth for a minute or two each day will help their bodies naturally breakdown the buildup of plaque and tarter.
You can also help keep your dogs’ mouth clean by purchasing the right treats and toys. Stay away from products that are soft and sticky since they can remain in your dogs’ mouth for extended periods of time. Also pay attention to ingredients like sugar that do more harm than good. Ideally, you would try a treat like carrots, which are both healthy and crunchy. There are also a number of treats made specifically to promote dental health. Just read the ingredients and make sure they do everything they advertise.
If you do run into a dental concern with your dog, the best step is to talk with your veterinarian. They will examine your dog and recommend the best treatment plan. In some cases this will include a professional cleaning. This can involve putting your dog to sleep and working extensively on their mouth. While this can procedure can be stressful for both you and your pet, starting with a clean slate will make it easier to implement a long-term dental strategy.
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