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An Expert Guide to Doggy Dental Care

Thursday January 19th 2017

Teeth are often overlooked when it comes to your dog’s regular health checks, but according to the Royal Veterinary College, oral disease affects over 90% of adult dogs.

If your pup’s gnashers are not kept in tip-top condition they could develop plaque build-up, tartar or gingivitis. But it’s not just bad breath you should be worrying about…

Canine Dental problems can lead to serious health conditions

Stale breath and yellow teeth are not the only peril to poor oral care in your dogs, and can actually lead to life-threatening conditions.

"The toxins from periodontal disease are absorbed into the dog's blood stream," veterinarian Jan Bellows, from the American Veterinary Dental College, told PetMD. "As the kidneys, liver and brain filter the blood, small infections occur causing permanent and at times fatal organ damage."

What to look out for

 Any sign of pain
 Reduced appetite or fussiness over their food
 Pawing at their mouth
 Excessive drooling
 A lack of interest in chewing toys

You can clean your dog’s teeth

Regularly cleaning your pup’s teeth will reduce the risk of developing dental disease. You can even buy special doggy toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash to tackle the problem.

There are some things to remember:

 Get your pup familiar with things in its mouth by touching their lips softly with your finger, before moving onto the gums.
 Let your dog lick the toothpaste from your finger so it’s familiar with the taste.
 Use a circular motion with the brush and focus on the gum line to remove any build-up.
 Take your time and reapply toothpaste as needed.
 Reward your dog for good behaviour.

Don’t give a dog a bone…

Chewing on something firm does promote healthy teeth and keeps your pet’s choppers strong. However many vets warn of the dangers of giving raw or cooked bones to your dog.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Louise Lee, of the Blue Cross animal welfare charity, backs the warning, saying: "If large chunks are bitten off chews or bones then they can lodge in the mouth, the bowel, or worst of all, the oesophagus. Bones stuck in the oesophagus are particularly difficult to remove and can kill, as can any blockage."

Instead, why not opt for a synthetic bone or sturdy chew toys?

Dental sticks

Certain dog treats are formulated to help improve breath, and chewing on them every day can help to scrape off the plaque build-up on teeth – doing half the job of tooth cleaning for you.

However, dental sticks are not a complete substitute for regular oral health care and you still need to brush or wipe any residual build-up.

Safety tip: Always supervise your pup with any treats in case they become lodged in their throat.

Using canine wipes or gauze

If you’re pressed for time or if your dog is resisting having their teeth brushed, why not opt for canine wipes, pads or gauze? Put one over your finger and wipe along the gum line to remove any plaque or residual food.

Vets do a dental checks

While oral care is not usually included in your pet insurance policy, your vet will usually offer a paid-for dental check-up for your pooch and it can be worth the investment.

Some other things to point out…

 Some breeds such as Greyhounds, Schnauzers and Maltese terriers are prone to periodontal disease.
 Overcrowding of teeth is more common in small breeds.
 Dental plaque is the main cause of gingivitis which can lead to periodontal disease.