Archive for April, 2009

The Importance of Dental Health

April 8, 2009

Hello,  Nova Poodle reporting on this week’s topic: the importance of dental health for dogs.

I know…  it sounds kind of silly to be talking about doggie breath, but it is number one in keeping your pet healthy. Dental problems in dogs have skyrocketed in the past 10-15 years.

The main cause of dental problems these days is the addition of sugar to pet diets. Many commercial pet foods are sprayed with  sugar or high fructose syrup so that the pet will eat it. The pets get hooked on a sugary diet and their teeth suffer as well as their health.

A sugary diet is not the only reason for dental problems. Small dogs, especially those with beards or mustaches, seem to have more problems than others. The bacteria in the saliva gets trapped in the hair and gets into the mouth. Maltese and Schnauzers have particular problems with dental disease.

Dental disease can be a  killer of older pets. The toxins from the decay can get into the blood stream and make them very ill… or worse. Plaque and tartar build up on the gumline and then the teeth themselves. The worst spots are the molars right where the salivary glands are located. Next the build up will begin on the canines.

Look in your pet’s mouth and if you see yellowish or brownish stuff, this is the beginning of a tartar problem. At this point, you will be able to do something about it yourself. Brushing daily with a pet toothpaste helps keep the tartar under control. Be sure to use toothpaste made for dogs — human toothpaste will not work for dogs. It foams too much and will make them sick.  You must do this daily for it to help. If your pet won’t let you use a toothbrush, use a piece of gauze over your finger. Make sure you get the gumline! A good dental cleaning at the vet at least once a year after the age of 4 is always a good idea.

Jeff does tooth scaling at the shop without sedation. This can only be done on pets that have mild tartar build up and will allow the mouth to be worked on. It doesn’t replace a dental cleaning from the vet but is useful for prevention.

When the tartar build up is allowed to continue, the stuff on the teeth will turn gray or greenish. At this point the pet needs to see a vet to receive dental care. They may lose a few teeth if things are allowed to get this bad. The vet will put your pet under sedation and will use the same type of  ultra sonic equipment that is used on humans.

There are things you can do to help prevent dental problems before they get out of hand. As I mentioned before, brushing daily or using one of several new products made to control tartar. One of the products, PetzLife, can be found at The Muttley Crew. It must be used daily to be effective. You can use the spray and just spritz the teeth twice daily, or you can try the salmon-flavored gel, which is used like toothpaste. The dog’s saliva mixes with the product to help break up the tartar.

Another way to control tartar is to feed your dog raw, meaty bones. Raw bones are one of the best things you can give your dog. The chewing action wears off the tartar and the dogs love them. I get raw bones when I visit Jeff’s house and look forward to the special treat. The  raw bones do not splinter the way cooked bones do; however, always supervise your pet when they are chewing on anything. If a bone gets too small take it away from your pet so that the pet will not swallow it whole.

It is a fallacy that wet dog food causes bad teeth in dogs or that you should only feed kibble to prevent dental problems. Dog food that is prescribed for dental problems really does no better than any other food at prevention.

Keep up with the teeth cleaning… and I’ll be writing next week about a new topic.