Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Canine Periodontal disease is one of the most common and serious pet health problems, affecting approximately 80% of dogs by the age of 3. At-home prevention is as important as regular teeth cleaning by veterinarians. In fact, unless you provide teeth cleaning for your dog at home, periodontal disease will progress regardless of the care provided by your veterinarian.
How can you prevent periodontal disease in your dog?
The key to management of gum disease in dogs is prevention! As long as the surfaces of the teeth are cleaned frequently, the gums will stay healthy. There are several home care options to choose from and anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar buildup will be beneficial. Combining several home care options will be the most beneficial to your dog’s oral health.
Selecting a tooth brush and tooth paste
Each dog should have his or her own toothbrush. Proper toothbrushes are soft and angled in order to adequately reach the back teeth. Some dogs prefer small finger brushes. There are numerous toothbrush shapes and sizes available to best fit your dog’s mouth. Your veterinarian can help you select the right brush for your dog.
Human toothpastes contain abrasives and detergents and should not be used in dogs as they will swallow the paste. There are many toothpaste flavors available and most dogs seem to prefer the seafood or poultry-flavored types.
Proper brushing technique
Toothbrush bristles should be placed at a 45-degree angle where the gum and teeth meet. Using a gentle oval pattern and covering three to four teeth at a time, the bristles should be moved around the teeth. Ten short oval motions should be completed before moving the toothbrush to a new location in the mouth. The outside upper teeth do the most chewing and should get more attention.
Chews and treats
Chew treats can also be helpful in the prevention of plaque and tartar accumulation. Some rawhides and biscuits have anti-tartar ingredients. It is not recommended that dogs chew on dried natural bones or hard nylon products, as they are often associated with broken teeth and damaged gums.
There are many treats that claim efficacy against plaque and tartar. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance (www.vohc.org) has a list of approved foods and dental treats that can help pet owners distinguish which products are actually scientifically proven to reduce plaque and tartar buildup in your dog.