We all read about how we are supposed to brush our dog’s teeth every night, just like we do. Or at least once a week….We’re told by our vets the same thing, and they scold us when we bring our dog in with bad breath and plaque.
Here are two stories to help you understand just why we should pay better attention to our dog’s teeth:
Many years ago I adopted an Irish Setter from a rescue group – Molly. She was 6 when I got her, and her teeth were in HORRIBLE shape. Brown, full of plaque, red gums, stinky breath – a real mess. Obviously she had zero dental care. I had her teeth cleaned at the vets initially, and then started on a regimen of tooth brushing once a week. Occasionally I would get out the plaque scraper and scrape what plaque I could off her teeth as well. Soon her gums started looking better, and her breath wasn’t quite as bad. Though her teeth still weren’t great, it was the best I could do with teeth that were left unchecked for so long.
A few years down the road, I noticed a lump under her eye! So I took her into the vet and found out she had an abscess caused by her bad teeth and periodontal disease. So I got her teeth cleaned again by the vet, pulled a few teeth, and started her on some antibiotics. She was soon fine, and I kept at her teeth the best we could.
A couple years later, the same thing occurred and I took her in again. This time however, even more teeth had to come out. I had them cleaned as well, and got her on antibiotics. By this time Molly was down quite a few teeth so it made eating a challenge but we made it work. Sadly, Molly passed away not long after this, and I believe her poor teeth had something to do with it. I have read that periodontal disease can infect the body and cause bone loss. (Here’s a good article about periodontal disease and dental care from PetEducation.com)
On the other side – my parent’s started brushing their dog’s teeth religiously every week since she was a puppy. Annie (a Golden Retriever) loved it! She would even lay patiently for an hour if my dad wanted her to – while he scraped plaque off her teeth. Can you imagine!? It’s true. She never had to have her teeth cleaned by the vet, and had every single one of them left when she died. Annie lived to be a ripe old age of 16, and her teeth were as white as snow.
I know it’s a pain, but you really can save a lot of money by trying to care for your pet’s teeth at home, and save them from any potential surgeries or professional teeth cleaning by just taking a few minutes out of your day or at least once a week. My favorite is the cleaning pads for daily, and then the liquid with sponge once a week. Mocca seems to enjoy this surprisingly, though I think it is because she gets treats afterward!
If you have never cleaned your dog’s teeth before, here is a helpful article from PetEducation.com titled Brushing Teeth and Home Dental Care.
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