Tooth and dental care for dogs
Imagine what would happen to us if we didn't brush regularly each day! We'd have horrible breath, of course. But even worse, the resulting periodontal disease would mean multiple and severe health problems. The same is true for our 4-legged best friends.
Did you know that periodontal disease is the most common infectious disease in dogs? (This is also true for cats).
Studies indicate that more than 85% of all dogs 4 years and older suffer from periodontal disease! Not surprisingly, then, it is reported that by 3 years of age, 85% of dogs have begun to experience some phase of gum disease.
The progression of the disease begins with the formation of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms in the mouth at the gum line. Amazingly, 1 milligram of plaque contains more than 1 trillion bacteria - disease causing bacteria!
Plaque left on the teeth hardens into tartar which sticks to teeth like cement. The tartar leads to gingivitis, or gum disease, a condition in which actual gum damage begins. The gums become red and swollen, not to mention painful! Once this happens, the gums start to recede from the teeth, creating even more space for bacteria to grow.
Periodontal disease is now "off to the races" with a variety of very harmful effects. The roots of the teeth loosen as infection starts to cause bone loss. In smaller dogs, like our Bichon breeds, the bone that holds the teeth is thinner than that of medium-sized and larger dogs, so gum disease is likely to be even more of a problem for them.
Perhaps the most devastating and deadly effects of periodontal disease occur as the bacteria enters our companion's bloodstream through the mouth and gum tissues. This leads to damage of tissue in the heart, kidneys, and liver, and even the lungs and nervous system.
Unfortunately, it is a little known fact that neglecting the dental health of our beloved little buddies can cause potentially fatal heart-disease, kidney-disease, and liver-disease.
The good news is that all this can be prevented! However, please, don't be fooled into thinking that using dry dog food and providing bones or other chew toys is an effective solution for the necessary dental hygiene!
To maintain a healthy mouth and to prevent the serious conditions that result from ignoring dental needs, 2 things are needed:
* a tooth-brushing routine (preferably daily), and
* periodic professional cleaning by your veterinarian.
There is more good news! Tooth brushing can be done very quickly. Also, there are a variety of tasty doggie toothpastes and gels on the market to make our task easier. (Be sure to avoid using "human toothpaste" since those products are made to spit out and not to swallow!)
Although the thought of daily tooth-brushing for your dog might seem a little daunting at first, you'll find it very quick and easy once it's become a habit. Just keep in mind that what you're doing is adding to the quality and years to your best friend's life!