You put a lot of thought into keeping your dog healthy: quality food, routine checkups, exercise, and attention. But what about their teeth? Oral hygiene is an often overlooked but important factor in your dog's overall health.
Dental disease (also known as periodontal disease) is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats. The good news? All of the problems associated with dental disease are 100% preventable. By the time they reach three years of age, most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease.
Signs of oral and dental diseases in dogs and cats:
· Bad breath.
· Discolored, loose or fractured teeth
· Drooling or dropping food from the mouth.
· Bleeding gums, teeth with dental tartar.
· Decreased appetite or weight loss.
· Reluctance to play with toys/chews.
What can you do?
Planning our approach with your pet should begin with a through oral exam. Some pets will require a dental cleaning prior to beginning any preventative care measures. This dental cleaning will resolve potential sources of discomfort due to gingivitis or diseased teeth. If your pet is not in need of a dental cleaning at this point, then preventative measures will help to keep the teeth clean, gums healthy, and extend the amount of time between dental cleanings. Dental maintenance does not PREVENT the need for dental cleanings, but simply slows down the accumulation of plaque/tartar accumulation, decreases the severity of periodontal disease, and increases the time frame between dental cleanings.
FIGHT DASTARDLY DENTAL DISEASE AT HOME! Armed with dental supplies, used alone or in combination you can keep your pets’ teeth and breath fresh and clean.
STEP 1: BRUSHING & TOOTH-PASTES: Brushing your dog’s teeth is the single most effective means to maintain oral health between professional dental care. Plaque is a film of bacteria, food particles, and skin that adheres to the base of the teeth and causes periodontal disease. This film is easily disrupted by the simple mechanical effect of brushing the teeth. Almost all dogs will eventually accept brushing. The key to success is to be patient and gradual in your approach, brushing mainly the outsides of the “cheek teeth” located under the upper lip. Most experts agree that daily brushing is ideal, but if that's unrealistic, aim for three to four times per week. Don't be an overachiever: If your pup's patience only lasts for you to brush half their teeth today and the other half tomorrow, that's fine. Just remember which half you did each day! Always use pet specific tooth paste, they come in flavors that dogs accept, such as poultry and seafood. Avoid human toothpastes as they contain fluoride, abrasives and high-foaming detergents that should not be swallowed or inhaled by dogs.
STEP 2: CHLORHEXIDINE ORAL RINSE/ ORAVET DENTAL GEL: Chlorhexidine an effective anti-plaque antiseptic. Chlorhexidine binds to the oral tissues and tooth surfaces, and is gradually released into the oral cavity. Some dogs may object to the taste of products containing chlorhexidine while others accept it with no difficulty. The rinse/gel is applied by squirting a small amount inside the cheek on each side of the mouth. The tongue and lips will spread the rinse or gel around the mouth. OraVet dental gel is applied by our technicians immediately after a dental cleaning, and creates a barrier against bacteria, plaque and tartar accumulation. This lasts for 2 weeks, and is then re-applied weekly along the tooth and gum line for maintenance.
STEP 3: DIETS & CHEWS: Several “dental diets” have been shown to be of benefit in decreasing dental disease. Some employ a specific kibble design and others include a chemical anti-tartar ingredient. Rawhide products and chew treats can be helpful if chewed daily, and some rawhide chews and biscuits contain an anti-tartar ingredient. Palatability is important – chewing every day is the ideal. We recommend OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews, these chews contain delmopinol, an active ingredient similar to chlorhexidine that works to coat the teeth, tongue and gingiva, this coating functions as a protective barrier against the bacteria that cause bad breath. and they also work to combat plaque formation with mechanical action. They are safe to use daily, and the palatability is excellent!
- Dr. Mitchell