Taking care of your dog's oral health
SUMMARY: Long-lasting dog breath is often a red flag of an underlying health issue.
Posted: March 5, 2014
With spring in the air, many pet owners are getting ready to bring their dogs to the park to run around in the grass and frolic with other pooches. When Fido is meeting and greeting your human friends, the last thing you want is a for a horrible cloud of dog breath to come over them. Similar to us, dogs can come down with a case of halitosis. If your four-legged friend is truly part of the family, when was the last time you took him to get a dental exam and cleaning? Or how often do you brush his/her teeth?
Dogs need dental care since their oral health ties into several issues. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, many dogs show signs of oral disease by age 3 - and bad breath is often the first sign of a problem.
First, give your pooch the breath test. It's all right if it doesn't smell like dandelions, as dog breath isn't particularly fresh. With that being said, if his breath comes with a loss of appetite, excessive drinking, urinating or vomiting, take your pooch to the vet.
To prevent Fido from slipping down the road of poor oral health, once a week, lift his lips to check out his gums and teeth. His teeth should not have any brownish tartar, and the gums should be pink, not red or white. They should also show no signs of swelling. Buy a toothbrush and toothpaste made especially for canines and brush his teeth regularly. Do not use human toothpaste, since it can irritate a dog's stomach.
Understanding mouth disorders
Study up on possible mouth problems so you know how to recognize them if they appear.
Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease caused mainly by the accumulation of plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. The longer tartar lingers on teeth, the more damaging it becomes. Signs include red, swollen or bleeding gums. Gingivitis can usually be reversed with brushing and regular cleaning by a vet.
Periodontal disease: Also known as advanced-stage gum disease, periodontal disease is a more severe form of gingivitis. When tartar stays on the tissues too long, the gums start to pull away from the teeth and form spaces that harbor harmful bacteria. These toxins begin to break down the bone and if not treated, periodontitis can result in tooth loss and spread infection to the rest of the body. Signs include loose teeth, bad breath, tooth pain and nasal discharge.
Halitosis: As the technical term for bad breath, halitosis is often the red flag for an underlying health problem. It is caused by bacteria growing from food particles left on the teeth. Frequent brushings can keep this problem away.
Mouth tumors: Tumors appear as lumps in the lips. Some are malignant and must be surgically removed.
Salivary cysts: These develop in the salivary glands if injuries, tumors, infections or salivary stones block the flow of saliva. Cysts may look like a blister or soft, raised area and can interfere with eating.
The takeaway is that a dental care regimen will keep your pup smiling and playing all day long.