Your pet counts on you for protection

With major advances in treating serious
infectious and other pet diseases, oral
disease – most importantly periodontal or
gum disease caused by the buildup of
plaque and tartar – has become the
number-one health problem for dogs. It’s
estimated that without proper dental care
80% of dogs will show signs of oral
disease by age three. With your help,
your pets can have healthy teeth and
gums throughout their lives.

You simply need to provide them with a few things:

  • A nutritious diet. Raw bones (NEVER cooked) may be suitable for some pets – ask your veterinarian about the best type
  • Chew treats such as rawhide “bones”
  • Regular brushing at home
  • Yearly dental checkups by a veterinarian

Good dental health begins with the proper diet
The wrong kinds of food can cause dental distress in pets. Feeding your dog a dry food rather than a
moist, canned one will, through its mild abrasive action on the teeth, help remove the bacterial plaque
that can harden into tartar. Dry food also provides adequate chewing exercise and gum stimulation.
Avoid giving your pet sweets and table scraps as they may also increase plaque and tartar formation.
Your vet may recommend the use of special dry foods designed to reduce plaque and tartar buildup,
especially if your pet is prone to dental problems due to their breed or individual genetic history.

Brushing your pet’s teeth

Dogs can have their teeth brushed in order to eliminate the dental plaque that can cause tooth decay
and the formation of tartar, which can lead to gum disease. You should begin a regular, daily brushing
routine when your puppy is between six and eight weeks of age. Even older dogs can be trained to
accept having their teeth brushed. You simply need to introduce the activity gradually and make the
experience a positive one for your pet. Reassure and praise them profusely throughout the process
and reward them with a very special treat when it’s finished. Here’s how it can be done:

Step 1

  • Start by dipping a finger in beef stock for dogs.
  • Rub this finger gently over your pet’s gums and one or two teeth.
  • Repeat until your pet seems fairly comfortable with this activity.

Step 2

  • Gradually, introduce a gauze-covered finger and gently scrub the teeth with a circular

Step 3

  • Then, you can begin to use a toothbrush, either an ultra-soft model designed for people
    or a special pet tooth-brush or finger brush, which is a rubber finger covering with a small
    brush built in at its tip.

Step 4

  • Finally, once your pet is used to brushing, introduce the use of pet toothpaste in liquid
    or paste form. Most of these contain chlorhexidine — ask your veterinarian for his
    recommendations. Don’t use human toothpaste, as it can upset your pet’s stomach.
    Your vet may also advise the use of an antiseptic spray or rinse after brushing.

Don’t forget a yearly dental checkup

Doing your best to ensure that your dog receives the proper diet and regular brushing at home will
help maintain his teeth and gums in top condition. To provide optimum dental care at home, you need
to start with a clean bill of dental health. That’s where your pet’s veterinarian comes in.
He will give your pet a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity to determine whether there are
any underlying problems and, especially important, tartar buildup. Brushing removes plaque but not
tartar, so if your pet’s teeth do have tartar, your veterinarian will have to remove it with a professional
cleaning and polishing, usually accomplished under anaesthesia. After removing the tartar above and
below the gum line, your veterinarian will provide you with instructions for home care and follow-up.

A few tips:

  • Chew treats, including hard meat-protein biscuits and rawhide chews for dogs, can help
    remove plaque, and provide stimulation for the gums.
  • Watch out for wood – throwing sticks to dogs or letting your dog pick up a piece of wood with
    their mouth can result in splinters and gum damage.
  • Don’t let your pet chew on hard materials like bones or stones. They can wear down, even
    break teeth, damage gums and lead to infection.

A few statistics:

  • Puppies develop their deciduous teeth at 2 weeks of age, with their 42 permanent teeth
    starting to appear at 5-6 months.