The Importance of Keeping Your Pup’s Mouth Healthy
When we say that good oral health is the foundation for quality overall health, most people probably think this only applies to humans. But your dog’s oral health is just as important in keeping them healthy and happy for the duration of their life.
That’s right, good oral health is something that’s applicable to our four-legged friends as well.
Did you know that periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the most common disease adult dogs have? By the time your dog reaches this stage, it’s already too late.
That’s why it’s important that you start taking care of your canine’s canines as soon as you bring your new puppy home.
What To Look For
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, signs of dental disease are present in pets by 3 years of age. This means you must get to work early in order to keep your dog’s dental health on track as your puppy grows from a little bundle of ears and paws into a key member of your family.
So, what should you be looking for when it comes to dental disease or trauma? There are a variety of indicators that your puppy may need to see a vet, including:
- Bad Breath – While new puppy smell might be the best thing ever, you can’t expect their mouth to smell like yours after a fresh brushing. However, very strong or unusually bad scents could mean there’s an underlying issue.
- Discolored Gums or Teeth – If your new best friend’s gums aren’t pink, but instead seem white or red, or if there are signs of tartar on their teeth, your dog could be at risk.
- Behavioral Changes – If your typically high energy puppy seems unusually sleepy or won’t eat, or if they appear sensitive to touches around the mouth or muzzle, there could be an internal issue. Oral infections can spread throughout the body to other organs, so it’s important to get your pup’s grin looked at.
- Broken Teeth – Outside of visually inspecting your dog’s teeth for plaque or tartar buildup, you should also look for any damaged or broken teeth. Your puppy won’t show pain from a damaged tooth, but they’re definitely feeling it.
Now that you know what to look for, here’s how to fix or treat issues that pop up.
How To Treat Your Dog’s Oral Health Issues
Your vet may recommend a number of specific ways to treat what ails your pup, including:
- Scheduling a Cleaning – Just like with humans, dogs should have regular dental check-ups to make sure their mouth is healthy. But unlike with people, pets require anesthesia for their cleanings in order to protect them while X-rays are taken and the teeth are cleaned, both above and below the gum line.
- Removing Problem Teeth – When you stay on top of your check-ups with your vet, your vet may recommend a tooth removal if something shows up on your pup’s X-ray. And if your pup has an accident, be sure to let your vet know immediately if you see a chipped, cracked, broken, or missing tooth. It may be causing your dog a lot of pain.
How To Maintain Your Dog’s Oral Health
When you consider everything that goes into raising your puppy to be a member of your family—training, recreation, treats, all the snuggles and pets— protecting man’s best friend’s bite will seem like a piece of cake.
Here are some steps you can take at home to keep your pup’s mouth fresh and healthy:
- Chews – While chewing unapproved items—like socks, shoes, the TV remote, or a hole in the floor—is discouraged, chewing is a natural part of a dog’s life, and it can help keep their teeth clean as well. It often helps remove plaque and tartar, and some specific chew toys and edible items for them to focus on, like rawhide and bully sticks, can take it a step further. It is important to avoid hard items like antlers and synthetic bones as they can cause teeth to fracture or break.
- Treats and Food – If you’ve ever owned a pup before, you’re no doubt aware of the various treats and foods available for all your pet’s needs. While some of these items can certainly be effective at keeping teeth clean, you should look for items specifically endorsed by the Veterinary Oral Health Council as they’ve been tested for safety..
- Brushing Teeth – You brush your own teeth twice a day and floss regularly, right? So why wouldn’t you do something similar for your furry friend? While you don’t need to do it twice a day, and you should definitely leave the floss far away from your dog, you should be aiming for a daily brushing routine. It’s the best, most direct way to keep your pup’s mouth clean, but you’ll have to work on getting your pup to a comfortable place just like with any other training.
With a little extra care and work, maintaining your dog’s dental health will keep them happy and healthy and free from pain. It will also keep you from shelling out any extra money for surprise oral surgeries and tooth removals. It’s a win-win.
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