Did you know that February is Pet Dental Month?! According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80% of dogs show signs of oral disease by age 3. Some of the signs of oral disease are listed below:
- Bad breath
- Changes in chewing or eating habits
- Buildup of brown or yellow tartar on their teeth
It all starts with the mixture of bacteria, saliva and food particles that accumulate around the gumline as plaque. Left unchecked the plaque will turn to tartar which can cause gingivitis (inflamed gums) and periodontitis (tooth loss). In advanced stages of periodontitis, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause infections to the heart, liver or kidneys. You should consult with your veterinarian to see if your dog needs a dental cleaning.
Tartar can build in as little as 36 hours, so regular tooth brushing is your best bet for keeping your dog’s teeth clean and their gums healthy. Of course, there are also dental chews, food, gels and water additives that can assist in combatting plaque and tartar; however, regular tooth brushing is your first line of defense. Make sure you use a very soft toothbrush or one specifically designed for pets and use dog-safe toothpaste!
Links for further information:
www.vohc.org – Veterinary Oral Health Council. They have a list of approved products for dental health
www.petdental.com – This website has some good tips on how to get your dog used to having his or her teeth brushed