Tell your kids to go brush their teeth. Trust me. Just do it. If they decline, show them this. (Scroll down to photos below.)
Ok. Do you brush your dog’s teeth?
I admit, I don’t. I’m a good dog Mom. I am. I absolutely DO NOT brush 6 to 8 dog’s teeth daily, or weekly, or at all. I just don’t. I really hope that my kids are actually brushing their damn teeth when they say they have. That is enough of a battle. What I DO is give my dogs very healthy dog food. I NEVER feed them people food, (ok, I use some all beef hotdogs to give pills, and very occasionally I give the dogs frozen peanut butter Kongs, but that’s it).
February is Canine Dental Health month. Woo! How important is a dog’s oral hygiene? And why am I writing this in January? We have a new guest, a senior, and she had the most awful breath. I mean really bad. You could smell her breath within 5 feet of her, poor thing. It was bad. Cora was living outside with two other dogs for three years after her owner died.
The neighbors fed them.* What they fed them – who knows? But Cora isn’t at all thin. Unfortunately, her mouth was a mess. An actual stinking mess.
Well, if you don’t want your dog to smell, and who does, their oral hygiene is quite important. Bad breath makes cuddling less fun, but did you know that canine dental problems can actually have major adverse health impacts? The toxins from periodontal disease are absorbed into a dog’s blood stream. As the kidneys, liver, and brain filter the blood, small infections occur. These can become life-threatening infections, causing permanent and even fatal heart, liver, and kidney disease.
Whether or not you brush your dog’s teeth (and hey, good for you if you do, because most of us don’t), you should have a look inside your dog’s mouth every once in a while. If you notice any of these signs of dental problems, you need to visit the vet:
- Bad breath
- Change in eating/chewing habits
- Pawing at the face or mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Misaligned/missing teeth
- Discolored, broken, missing/crooked teeth
- Red, swollen, painful or bleeding gums
- Yellowish-brown crust along the gum line
- Bumps or growths in the mouth
Your dog should have his teeth checked by a professional every six to twelve months.
Cora had to have almost all of her teeth extracted. 27 I believe. She was in bad shape. These are pictures from my amazing vet. You can’t see how bad it is until the teeth come out. Look how much of the damage was well below the surface. Yuck.
PREVENTION is so important! Addressing problems when they are minor is key to your dog’s overall health and longevity. Most pet insurance policies won’t pay out for dental treatment, so delaying can be costly.
What to do?
Brushing your dog’s teeth is best, but needs to be done daily to be truly effective. Alternatively, for the busy and the lazy, like myself, it’s really easy to give them treats that help remove tartar and plaque build up and also help with that bad breath. We use these and these.
What you feed your dog is very important to your their overall health. Generally, a good quality dry kibble is better than soft food, which is more likely to stick to you dog’s teeth and cause tooth decay. You can also provide natural treats. Most dogs like the taste of apples. Chewing on fresh, crisp apple slices helps remove bacteria and food particles from teeth. Just no seeds, there are bad, (tiny bit of arsenic). Fresh carrots and celery are also good bacteria removers. Good luck with the celery, not a hit at my house.
- Small size dogs – 1 tsp to 1 tbs
- Medium size dogs – 1/8 cup
- Large dogs – 1/3 cup
- Extra large dogs – 1/2 cup
Miss Cora is home, resting, and is already feeling so much better without her teeth. We will be giving her soft foods for a few weeks and antibiotics. She is going to be such a happy girl! Now we just need to find her forever family!
*All three senior dogs are rescued and in foster homes. Let me know if you are interested in adopting!