Most of us agree that maintaining good dental hygiene practices are not only aesthetically important, but they can also make a big difference to our health. Why should the same not be true for man’s best friend as well as man?
Indeed, the facts support this idea. Many dogs have already developed signs of gum disease before they reach four years of age, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). And when the mouth is unhealthy, the rest of the body often follows as bacteria can enter the bloodstream damaging internal organs such as the heart and kidneys. While your dog may not always want to open wide for a brushing, it’s worth taking the time to introduce a daily dental care regime, which includes feeding a diet with dental care as well as daily tooth brushing, (see below for more details)
In fact, Dr Jan Bellows, a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College, believes good dental hygiene can increase a dog’s life span by as much as a third. “When a client asks me how long their puppy will live, I usually respond 15-17 years if you brush their teeth daily … 11-13 years if you don't,” Dr Bellows told petMD.
Longevity is, naturally, one of the biggest concerns for pet owners. During 10 years of learning by Eukanuba they found that almost 90% of a group of 39 Labradors fed a Eukanuba diet, while also receiving appropriate care, lived longer than the typical lifespan of 12 years. Even more astonishingly 28% of these Labradors lived exceptionally long lives living 30% longer than the typical life span. Take Utah for example, who lived until he was 17 years and 11 months old.
Prevention is better than cure – lift the lip
Many owners become aware of their dog’s dental health simply because they forget to take a look inside their pet’s mouth. The good news is that dental disease can be avoided just by following a few simple steps, the first of which is to simply “Lift The Lip”. A weekly check of your pooch’s gums and teeth is important to help notice any problems such as bad breath, red gums or build-up of tartar. All of which can be signs of dental disease.
The first tell-tale sign of potential dental trauma is bad breath and while all dogs naturally have unpleasant-smelling breath, a particularly offensive oral odour could be a sign that your dog has developed complications and should be taken to a vet for a dental check-up, much like we do every year.
Amongst others, the problems which could develop in your dog’s mouth include:
- Gingivitis. This inflammation of the gums brought on by a build-up of tartar, bacteria and plaque.
- Periodontal disease. This infection begins in between the gums and teeth, often leading to the loss of teeth, and can spread painfully throughout the body.
- Swollen gums. Can be an early indication that food is becoming lodged in the dog’s teeth and can lead to further complications like those mentioned above.
- Mouth tumours. These unsightly lumps often have to be removed with a surgical procedure.
The 3 D’s of dental care.
You can help avoid the risk of dental disease by simply following the 3D’s of dental care:
1. Daily Brushing – This is most easily achieved by treating your dog’s mouth as you would your own, which means daily brushing. Start slowly and always begin brushing the back teeth first NOT the incisors (front teeth) as these can be ticklish and your dog will object and wriggle, meaning you are more likely to give in and stop the process before you have started. Canine-specific tooth brushes (which do not contain high levels of fluoride) and toot
2. Dental Checks – Regular dental check-ups at the vet practice are an easy and effective way to check for abnormalities which can be treated by your vet.
3. Dental Diet – Feeding your dog with a diet such as Eukanuba which contains a special tooth cleaning mineral, can help reduce tartar build up by up to 80%*
The main message here is not to skimp when it comes to your dog’s long-term health. Paying close attention and due care to canine teeth and gums can enrich their quality of life no end – and may even add significant years to their lifespan.
You want long in the tooth, not wrong in the tooth!
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