Bad Breath! Your Pet’s Mouth.

Dog with severe periodontal disease

Ouch! This pet's mouth is painful.

Oh, I remember the days. . .  first thing in the morning, you felt the bed move, then, the hot rancid un-mistakable breath of your dog: “Garlic” — raised you right out of your slumber.

In years past, you just dealt with it. Garlic didn’t spend much time in the house. He was an outdoor dog: farm dog, watch dog.

Today . .  well, you know.  He’s your best friend, and you want the best for him.

Below is an article, written by Jan Bellows, DVM, Diplomate, American Veterinary Dental College and Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Weston, Florida. Provided by Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Great dental care is one of the best gifts you can give your dog. Without daily brushing and preventive care, most dogs will eventually develop gum disease. Examination of your dog’s mouth at least monthly lets you see minor problems before oral disease progresses.

Start by looking at your dog’s face to make sure there are no swellings. While looking at the head, feel the glands under your pet’s neck. Both should be the same size and non-painful. Next, raise the lips and look at the teeth and gums. Note any areas of inflammation, swelling or broken teeth. Finally, smell your dog’s breath. If the breath has an unpleasant odor, a trip to the veterinarian is in order.

For home dental preventive care to succeed, your dog must have a healthy, comfortable mouth. Untreated problems can cause pain, and a noncompliant patient. Dental pathology must be cared for first.

Daily brushing is the cornerstone of preventive care. If daily brushing is not performed, plaque (bacteria) attracts calcium salts, and calculus (tartar) forms. Plaque and calculus irritate the gum tissue, leading to periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease begins as gingivitis, an inflammation of gums caused by bacteria. If gingivitis is ignored, inflamed gums pull away from teeth creating pockets that trap more bacteria. Advanced disease leads to receding gum tissue, destruction of bone and loss of teeth. Inflamed gums also give bacteria easy access to the bloodstream, infecting major organs.

Gingivitis is curable, but periodontitis generally is not. Only a conscientious program of daily brushing, regular dental checkups, and veterinary intervention at the earliest signs of infection can prevent progression of the disease.

Home care is best started at a young age, before your dog gets its adult teeth. Proper brushing technique involves using small circular motions around the outside of the teeth, being sure to get the bristles under the gum line.

Toothbrush size is important. There are specially made brushes to fit into the large mouths of long-muzzled dogs. Each dog should have its own brush to avoid cross contamination of bacteria from one pet to another.

Introducing your dog to toothpaste and a toothbrush takes patience. When you sense your dog is getting anxious with the brushing procedure, give reassurance by talking and try again. Expect progress, not perfection. Reward progress immediately with a treat, or a play period after each cleaning session. Take time. Each pet is different. Some will be trained in one week while others will take a month or more.

The payoff is well worth the learning curve.

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