Caring for your dog’s teeth does much more than just help their ‘dog breath’ problem. In fact, it’s importance to their overall health cannot be overstated. Dental disease starts, as with humans, with the build up of plaque on the teeth. If left, that becomes tartar, a cement-like substance that pushes back the gums, allowing bacteria to attack the roots of the teeth, leading to infection and bone loss. A scale and polish under general anaesthetic can remove a tartar build up. Animals cannot say they are in pain; instead their behaviour changes, sometimes quite subtly. It takes quite a lot of discomfort for them to stop eating, by which time the dental disease can be quite advanced. Severe dental disease can lead to heart, liver, kidney and respiratory problems.
Advanced dental disease can result in bone destruction, spontaneous fractures of the jaw and severe pain.
It is a good idea to consider how you will manage your puppy’s oral hygiene well before their adult teeth come through. Getting a puppy comfortable with you examining their mouth and gently introducing brushing will make your job much easier when they are adult. You will need a soft toothbrush and a tooth paste formulated for pets – human tooth pastes are foamy and have a high fluoride content, toxic to dogs.
For adult dogs, special biscuit diets proven to mechanically remove plaque from teeth (effectively like brushing) are available.
If you have a dog, older than 12 months of age, that enjoys chewing, another option is getting a fresh marrow bone from your butcher. The bone MUST be raw (cooked bones can splinter) and large enough that your dog cannot eat it quickly or get it stuck in their mouth. A beef shoulder or hip bone, given weekly should help clean your dog’s teeth. For further advice, call Clockhouse on 01453 752555.