Board-certified veterinarian Dr. Todd Prince cares for small animals at several veterinary care centers in and around Naperville, Illinois. Dr. Todd Prince focuses much of his attention on preventative care and promoting overall pet wellness, which includes proper care of the teeth.
Approximately 78 percent of dogs over 3 years old suffer from dental disease, while 85 percent of dogs above age 4 have a form of periodontal disease. These conditions can cause discomfort and ultimate tooth loss, as well as systemic medical issues when the infection enters the blood stream. Fortunately, dog owners can help to prevent these conditions through the simple practice of good canine dental hygiene.
Veterinarians often recommend that owners begin this practice with a visit to the veterinarian, who can perform a comprehensive diagnostic examination and remove existing tartar. This brings the dog to a healthy baseline and makes it more comfortable for the owner to begin a brushing regimen. Experts suggest that owners begin with a lip massage of up to one minute, either daily or twice daily for a few weeks. Once the dog is used to this kind of contact, the owner can try massaging the teeth and gums.
Canine toothbrushes and toothpastes are available commercially. Brushes are smaller and softer than human toothbrushes and may fit over the finger, though the owner may choose to use a piece of clean gauze instead. Similarly, a baking soda and water concoction can safely take the place of canine toothpaste. Dental-friendly treats, identifiable with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal, can also help to keep dogs’ teeth clean between brushings.