Oral Hygiene of Dogs: Worth caring for?

While most dog owners care reasonably about their oral hygiene, they usually ignore it when it comes to their best friend i.e. their dog. Almost 80 percent of dogs suffer from one or the other oral disease. What’s more surprising is that the dog owners are usually shocked when a veterinarian shows them their dog’s infected gums, loose teeth or tooth cavities.

A dog’s mouth is warm and moist and hence it is the perfect playground for all kinds of bacteria. Presence of many of these bacteria is normal. Problem usually starts when plaque and calculus begin to form on the teeth accompanied by increased presence of pathogenic organisms. Foul smell from a dog’s mouth is usually an indicator of an underlying problem. Regular checkups by a veterinarian is the best way to prevent occurrence of oral diseases.

Following is a list of the most common oral diseases a dog may suffer from –

 

Disease/Disease Indicator Illustrative Photograph
Plaque – sticky deposit on teeth leading to bacteria proliferation          
Calculus (Tartar) – a hard calcified deposit on the teeth, usually yellow or brown in color       
Caries (Cavities) – Decay and crumbling of tooth       
Gingivitis – inflammation of the gums    
Periodontitis (Pyorrhea) – inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, often causing shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth    

Those of you who have suffered from dental diseases will probably relate to the disease mentioned above. Yes, dental diseases in dogs are similar to those in human beings.

Effect of poor oral hygiene on overall health

One of the most debated topics among veterinarians is effect of poor oral hygiene on general health of dog. Many vets believe that the harmful bacteria in a dog’s mouth release harmful toxins which are absorbed into the blood stream of dog. This can result in damage to heart, liver, kidney and brain. That said, many vets believe that there is NO negative impact of poor oral hygiene on overall health. We hope that more research in near future will shed some more light on this topic.

Treatment & Prevention

If you believe your dog is suffering from a dental disease, contact your veterinarian at the earliest and get it treated. For those of you who are unaware, there are proper dental procedures for dogs too.

As prevention is always better than cure, here are a few tips to prevent dental diseases-

  1. Inspect regularly

Gently expose your dog’s teeth by stretching the lips back and take a thorough look at her teeth once a month. If you find something suspicious, contact your vet.

  1. Physical tooth cleaning

Tooth brushing is an effective way of cleaning. Just make sure you do it daily. Your dog may resist brushing initially but she will get used to it pretty soon.

In addition to brushing, you can also consider giving your dog raw bones and some special dog foods such as dental sticks. These work by rubbing the tooth and gum surface thus preventing plaque formation.

  1. Exercising mouth structures

Chewing on nylon or hard rubber toys will help your dog in exercising her mouth thus preserving the vital mouth structures.

  1. Visit your vet regularly

Your vet will closely inspect your dog’s teeth and gingiva along with an assessment of her oral hygiene. Your vet can also do an ultrasonic teeth cleaning under light anesthesia, if needed.

Nipping the dental problems in the bud is the key to your dog’s good oral hygiene and a happy You.

 

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