Chew on this – 80% of dogs develop some form of gum disease before their second birthday! The fact is, when it comes to our dogs’ dental health, we have to be proactive – and the sooner we start, the better.
Fido’s dental hygiene is about more than keeping doggie breath at bay – poor dental care impacts your pet’s overall health and may even shorten his life. A gum infection gives bacteria a chance to get into the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body. When those bacteria settle in the liver, kidney, and heart this can result in serious problems.
Food trapped between teeth provides the perfect home for bacteria, which then create a glue-like coating, called plaque, on the surface of the teeth (this is why we brush our teeth twice a day!) For our pets, this build up can lead to gum recession, wobbly teeth and a bad case of ‘his bite is worse than his bark.’ Left untreated, your pet could develop calculus, gingivitis or even periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is actually one of the most common conditions we see at Petplan. Treatment costs usually come in around $500, but for one pooch with particularly troublesome teeth it cost over $5,500 for treatment.
Our littlest canine friends, the toy breeds, are especially susceptible to plaque and tartar – making it even more important to be proactive about keeping their teeth in tip-top condition.
Top Tips for Busy Pet Parents
Tooth brushing is the gold standard, but in our time-poor world, here are some realistic ways to improve your furry friend’s dental hygiene:
Tooth Brushing: Breaking out the tooth brush each day is ideal, but even a weekly brushing will greatly improve your dog’s oral health (and breath!)
Doggy Mouth Wash: Yes, it does exist! Look for a pet product containing chlorhexidine and zinc gluconate – a quick squirt once a day and you’re good to go.
Dental Food, Treats and Toys: These work by mechanically rubbing away debris as your pet chews. You’ll want to look for food or treats approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
Dental Gels: These can seal the teeth against bacteria for seven days.
Visit the VET: An annual examination will allow your veterinarian to determine whether a dental cleaning is indicated.
With our busy schedules, we sometimes forget that our dogs need their teeth cared for, too. The truth is that they feel toothaches and discomfort just like us, they just can’t reach for the mouthwash themselves. But by lending a helping paw at home (and visiting the vet!), you can help keep his teeth out of trouble. And if during a routine cleaning the veterinarian finds a problem like gum disease or a broken tooth, Petplan will cover the cost of that treatment – now there’s something to smile about!