Dental hygiene is an important part of your dog’s health. Most dog owners forget that their pets need tooth care; that is, until a visit to the vet results in periodontal disease and the recommendation of a veterinary cleaning that involves general anesthesia.
While a veterinary procedure may be necessary every year, you can help with your own dental care at home. Without proper care of your pet’s teeth at home problems like bad breath, plaque build-up, gum disease, and tooth loss arise. Dogs with discomfort in their mouth from poor hygiene lose their appetites. If a dog’s mouth becomes infected, then bacteria begins to slough off into their digestive systems which, over time, weakens the whole system and can result in kidney and liver disease and failure thus shortening their life span.
Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
You can take action at home to prevent periodontal disease in your beloved dog. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily is one way to lessen the build-up of tartar and plaque. Use toothpaste specifically made for dogs, and never use your human toothpaste: it’s toxic for dogs to swallow.
A long, angled brush is good for larger dogs, while you can use a short brush for smaller breeds. Most dog toothpaste is flavored to help the dog accept the brushing, but if your dog is resistant to the use of a toothbrush, there are finger brushes that are easier to manage while holding your dog at the same time: the finger brush seems more like a treat.
Adding a tarter control supplement to your dog’s water also helps prevent tooth decay. One good brand to try is called Aquadent. Allowing your dog certain treats to promote chewing also helps break away plaque build-up. CET chews are great because they are super tough and have been pre-treated with plaque stopping enzymes.
Dental chews are also a good option if your dog will actually chew on one for an extended period rather than wolfing it down. There is an assortment of approved (NO RAWHIDE) chews that last longer for vigorous chewers. My pups love Tropiclean Dental Chews, Whimzees, Zuke’s Z Bones, KaNoodles, etc. Another option is a Nylabone (particularly good for the puppies).
What your dog’s gum color can tell you about their health
So if you think that your dog doesn’t get the “proper” dental care there are a few tips to determine any disease if you inspect your dog’s gum color.
From light red to pink shades
If your dog’s gums are light red to pin then your dog’s health is overall good. Please remember that you should look only at the gums, not on the inside of the cheeks or the tongue. They also have to be a little wet when you touch them. If they are dry or sticky it may be a sign of dehydration and you should go to the vet.
White or extremely pale gums
Extremely pale or white gums can be a sign of low blood flow or anemia that can be caused but an intestinal parasite or maybe a flea infestation.
Blue colored gums can be from a myriad of things. It can be anything from lack of oxygen or cyanosis to lung disease or hypoxia.
Yellow tinged gums
Yellow tinged gums may indicate liver failure. Please check the whites of the eyes (just like the same in humans).
Extremely dark red gums
Extremely dark red gums may indicate heat stroke or early stages of dehydration
So, these small efforts can increase your dog’s lifespan, enhance the overall quality of life, and prevent serious surgeries or frequent veterinary cleanings. Well worth the efforts for a happy, healthy dog!