Recently we have seen an increase of clients coming to us with Pet mouth issues. Bad breath, bad teeth or bad gums. One poor lil girl had to have 13 teeth removed in one go. So it got me wondering ... how much do you actually know about your pets dental health and healthcare???
Lets start with the basics shall we... At around 4 weeks of age, a puppies baby teeth start to come in. These teeth, about 28 of them, are mainly canines and incisors – the sharper teeth at the front and sides of their mouths. They won’t be chewing a lot of difficult food, so they only need these teeth. As they develop towards adulthood, their baby teeth fall out to make room for their adult teeth. If your puppy starts to lose teeth between 4 and 6 months old, don’t worry. This is normal, like a kindergartener losing his first tooth. At this stage, puppies are often uncomfortable and go through a teething stage, just like human babies. To relieve their discomfort, they chew on anything they can. That’s why you may come home to find your favorite shoes in pieces. Puppies love to chew and this should be encouraged but with commonsense. Remember that these teeth are more fragile than the permanent ones. Games, toys and chewing behaviours need to encourage the development of healthy gums and teeth and not cause any damage in the process. Brushing of the teeth (using dog toothpaste) should be started at an early age so that the pup learns that it is a pleasant process. Whatever you put in your dog’s mouth will be swallowed so don’t use human toothpaste (very high fluoride and designed to be spat out) or things such as bicarb, salt or peroxide. These can all harm your dog if swallowed. The teeth should be brushed once daily and in a simple back and forward motion.
Remember the rules – don’t give anything that can damage the teeth or the dog. Don’t feed cooked bones. Don’t give chop or rib bones (they often get caught in the mouth or throat). Feed the very young puppy raw chicken wings once or twice a week. As the pup grows, move on to the large cow thighbones. Do NOT give them the ones that have been cut down the middle by the butcher (cut in half lengthwise). These will result in broken carnassial teeth (the big teeth at the back). The dog does not need to eat bone marrow – that is an “old wives’ tale”. What they need to do is gnaw at the knuckles. Once these are gone, throw the bone away and get a new one.
Once all their adult teeth have come in, your dog will have around 42 permanent teeth. This includes the adult version of canines and incisors they had as puppies, plus molars. Occasionally, a dog will have a tooth or two that doesn’t come in. If it causes pain, it may need to be extracted. Once adult teeth are in, these are it, so you need to take care of them. It’s estimated that 80% of dogs over age 2 have some form of dental disease. Dental disease takes many forms, such as:
• Chronic bad breath – this is a common symptom that signals something is wrong.
• Gingivitis (inflamed gums) – reversible with treatment.
• Periodontal disease – infection between the teeth and gums. Very painful and may require tooth extraction.
• Cysts and tumors – lumps that form in the gums. May require drainage or surgery.
OKay so how do we keep adult dog teeth in good shape....???
Once a week, with your dog facing you, lift his lips and examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean, without any brownish tartar.Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause build-up on a dog’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. One solution? Regular teeth cleanings, of course. Get yourself a toothbrush made especially for canines or a clean piece of soft gauze to wrap around your finger. Ask your vet for toothpaste made especially for canines or make a paste out of baking soda and water. Please do not use human toothpaste, which can irritate a dog’s stomach. Special mouthwash for dogs is also available -- ask your vet. Place the brush or your gauze-wrapped finger at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and clean in small, circular motions. Work on one area of your dog’s mouth at a time, lifting her lip as necessary. The side of the tooth that touches the cheek usually has the most tartar, and giving a final downward stroke can help to remove it. If your dog resists having the inner surfaces of her teeth cleaned, don’t fight it-only a small amount of tartar accumulates there. Once you get the technique down, go for a brushing two or three times a week.
Chew toys can satisfy your dog’s natural desire to chomp, while making his teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help massage his gums and help keep his teeth clean by scraping away soft tartar. Ask your vet to recommend toxin-free rawhide, nylon and rubber chew toys.
P.S.: Gnawing also reduces your dog’s overall stress level, prevents boredom and gives him an appropriate outlet for his natural need to chew.
Just remember your furry friend cant tell you if they have a sore mouth or tooth, they cant tell you if they have a funny taste in there mouth or its hard to chew their food. Look for early symptoms of tooth problems so they can be fixed before they cause your buddy too much discomfort. A happy dog is a smilie dog!!!
Thanks to Paw Posse & Advanced Animal Dentistry & Web MD