Surprisingly, around 85% of dogs over 3 years old have significant dental disease. If left unchecked, dental disease can end up causing significant health problems for a dog. Ideally, the best way to avoid problems like these is to invest in a small amount of preventative care to reduce tartar build-up and stop bacterial infections of the gums. There are many options available to owners to proactively improve the oral health of their dogs. There are also several ways that dog owners can help prevent the build-up of plaque in the first place.
Plaque and tartar in dogs
Dogs develop plaque on their teeth when saliva, food particles and bacteria come together. If left untreated, this plaque combines with minerals in the mouth to become hard tartar that will eventually cause decay, gum disease and other ongoing oral health issues. Tartar that has built up over time is hard and has to be removed by a vet with specialised equipment. To prevent your dog’s dental health getting to this point, there are techniques you can use to remove any plaque that has started to form and stop any more developing.
Cleaning your dog’s teeth
Giving your dog’s teeth a regular brush is a great way to prevent plaque build-up. Make sure to use toothpaste specifically designed for dogs and never use your own toothpaste, as it contains ingredients which can upset your dog’s digestion. If your dog isn’t already used to the idea of getting their teeth brushed, it is unlikely they will accept the experience straight away, so you’ll need to ease into it over time.
Start by using your finger to rub the top and bottom of their teeth and gums. Once they’re used to that, you can slowly begin to introduce a toothbrush. However, make sure you allow your dog to adapt at their own pace. Slowly build up the amount of time spent brushing, gradually introduce a toothbrush into the routine and only begin really cleaning your dog’s teeth and gums properly once they are comfortable with the process.
Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth daily or weekly. Also, be sure to brush over your dog’s gum line, as this is where plaque and tartar stick. Another excellent way to combat plaque is to give your dog dental treats that can help loosen plaque and remove debris as they chew.
A change in diet to a formula specifically catered to dogs prone to dental health issues can also be a great way to clean your dog’s teeth – especially when they are still getting used to daily teeth brushing. Specialised formulas reduce the build-up of plaque and tartar due to the kibble’s texture having a brushing effect on their teeth.
When to see your vet about your dog’s teeth
If you’re finding that you’re unable to solve your dog’s problem with plaque and tartar build-up, it’s a good idea to visit your vet for advice and further treatment. Your vet can check your dog’s teeth and provide an oral care and dietary program.
If needed, vets also offer comprehensive care for dental issues including teeth polishing and ultrasonic de-scaling. They can also perform more advanced treatments including surgical intervention. Check with your vet to find out the best ways to improve your dog’s individual dental health and management strategies.
Please contact us at Ovens & Kiewa Veterinary Hospital if you'd like any more information.
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