Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth isn’t just about fresh breath. It’s an essential part of good oral care, and good oral care is important to your dog’s overall health. Although most people aren’t aware of it, periodontal, or gum disease is a common, serious problem in dogs. Yet brushing your dog’s teeth can prevent it!

Veterinarians estimate that 85 percent of dogs over five years of age suffer from periodontal disease, which develops when food particles and bacteria collect along the gum line and form soft deposits called plaque. Over time, the plaque turns into rock-hard tartar. If tartar isn’t removed from your dog’s teeth, it will eventually inflame his gums. As the inflamed gums begin to separate from the teeth, pockets form in which more bacteria grow, causing periodontal disease to worsen. At this point, your dog can experience severe pain, lose teeth, form abscesses in his mouth and develop a bacterial infection that can spread through the bloodstream to the kidneys, liver, heart or brain. Periodontal disease is irreversible, so now is a great time to get started on a regular oral-care regimen for your dog. Prevention is the key to keeping him healthy and happy.

You can find special dog toothpaste and toothbrushes at all major pet stores. If you feel awkward trying to use a toothbrush or if your dog doesn’t like it, you can wrap a piece of clean gauze around your finger and gently rub your dog’s teeth with that instead. Shoot for brushing or wiping your dog’s teeth at least two or three times a week.

Giving your dog plenty of things to chew can also keep her teeth clean and healthy. Regularly providing edible and inedible chew things also reduces your dog’s overall stress level, prevents boredom and gives her an appropriate outlet for her natural need to chew. Try offering her hard rubber chew toys, rawhide, bully sticks, natural bones and toys you can stuff with food and treats.

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