Dental Care

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

1. The Breath Test

Smell your dog’s breath. Although it is normal for a dog’s breath to not be particularly fresh-smelling, if the odor is especially offensive, it is a good idea to bring him in for a check-up. Often, halitosis (bad breath) is the first sign of a dental problem.

2. Flip the Lip

Once a week, flip your dog’s lip up and examine the teeth and gums. Gums should be pink, with no signs of swelling or irritation. Teeth should be clean, without buildup of brown tartar.

3. Know the Signs

Being familiar with symptoms of oral disease can allow you to catch a problem before it worsens.

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inflamed gums
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Trouble eating food

4. Prevention

Start a good dental care routine before calculus (tartar) has a chance to build up. Like in humans, bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause build up on a dog’s teeth. We typically brush our teeth at least once a day. Make this part of your dog’s routine, too. Excessive plaque begins to harden into hard-to-remove and irritating tartar within 24 hours of formation. Daily tooth brushing is the best way to fight dental disease.

Along with brushing, regular veterinary dental cleanings, special toys, treats, and food, and water additives such as healthymouth™ help you keep your dog’s mouth clean and healthy.

5. Proper Tooth Brushing Technique

Get yourself a tooth brush especially made for animals. These come in varieties that look similar to human brushes, or there are brushes that slip over your finger, which are especially helpful with small pets. Make sure you have a toothpaste formulated for your dog or cat. Human toothpaste can irritate an animal’s stomach.

  • First, get your pet used to the idea. Massage the lips, teeth, and gums with your finger for 30-60 seconds a couple times a day for a few weeks to get him used to the feeling.
  • When he seems to be comfortable being touched this way, put a small amount of tooth paste on the lips to get him used to the taste.
  • Next, introduce your special toothbrush. Apply toothpaste to the teeth, and gently brush the teeth in small, circular motions. Work on one area of the mouth at a time. The side of the tooth that touches the cheek usually accumulates the most tartar, so pay special attention to that area. If your pet is against you brushing the inside (touching the tongue) surfaces of the teeth, don’t worry. Only a small amount of tartar accumulates in this area.
  • Although daily brushing is best, brushing 2-3 times a week is better than not at all.

If infection and irritation has already started, the best plan of action is to get your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned at the veterinary office. After the cleaning, start your dog’s new dental health plan to help prevent dental problems from arising in the future. Clean mouth, happy dog!

About Shanna Ewert

Dr. Ewert was raised in Warsaw. She attended Ball State University for her undergraduate degree. She is also a 2004 graduate of Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine where she tracked small animals. Dr. Ewert practiced at a 5 doctor veterinary clinic in Deland Florida for 8 years after graduation before moving back home to Indiana. She is married, has 5 children, and 3 cats.

We love Community Animal Hospital! Dr. Ewert is so friendly and patient with our enthusiastic dog!