According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs suffer from some form of gum disease by the time they are 2-3 years old. As you may know, some breeds have more problems than others (Pugs, Collies, Yorkies, Chichuahuas, Dachshunds, Boxers and Shih Tzus). So you may want to check your dogs gums and teeth on a more regular basis if you own or are thinking of getting one of these breeds or rescues. I check my dogs teeth and gums on a regular basis. How often do you check your dogs teeth?
Gum disease happens over time, but your dogs don't typically show any signs of the disease until they show symptoms. Some symptoms of gum disease can include:
- Bleeding or red gums
- Trouble picking up things
- Eating slowly or picking at food
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Bumps or lumps in the mouth
- Not wanting head or mouth touched
- Chewing on one side of the mouth
- Nasal discharge
So what can you do to help prevent this?
1.) First check your dogs mouth, gums and teeth on a regular basis. You could even take a picture of your dog's mouth with your cell phone to document what they look like today. Take a front, left and right side photo.
2.) Get regular veterinarian check-ups and point out any specific areas to your vet that may be of concern. A chipped tooth, a red area on one side, your dog chewing on one side of his mouth. Your vet will make any recommendations if necessary.
3.) If you are going to brush your dogs teeth, this should be done twice a day, everyday.
While this task may be a little time consuming, if you have a breed that does typically have dental disease, brushing their teeth may be very beneficial. It can save you hundreds to thousansa of dollars by avoiding anethesia, cleaning of teeth and extractions.
4.) Feed your dog a quality food. Some dogs may benefit from foods that include additives that prevent plaque from hardening. Talk to your vet or your local Pet Nutritionist to help you select the right food. Proden Plaque Off Chews and Powder are products that are backed by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Check with The Mill to learn more about all of these products.
5.) Offer safe toys, treats and chews for daily chewing. Chewing daily is very beneficial to your dog. Such chews as appropriate sized rubber balls, rubber toys that you can hide food like a KONG or select appropriate chews.
According to Dr. Karen Becker, one of the most followed veterinarians in the world. You should make sure that the bones and chews you purchase are sourced and manufactured in the USA. Products that are free range herds out of new Zealand or Canada are also recommended. She does not suggest, that you feed bulk products, you don't know where they are from and how long they have been sitting on the shelf.
Dr. Becker suggests that you ask yourself two questions. 1) Is the product that you are looking at non-toxic? and 2) Is it a safe fit for my dog? If you are selecting bones, make sure they are the appropriate size for your dogs. Gnawing or continious grinding is what wears down plaque and tartar. Crunching, anything that your dog can chew in less than a minute should be considered a treat and not a chew. Match the size of the chew to the size and personality of your dog. If you have a fast eater, choose a product that is larger than the size of your dogs head.
Aggressive chewers goals are to finish the bone, the problem is fractured teeth. Do not give these dogs rock hard bones, antlers or the wrong size marrow or narrow bones. Offer raw knuckle bones, but watch them carefully. Raw bones filled with marrow which is about 60% fat and high in calories may not be appropriate for all dogs. Check with your veterinarian if unsure. A low fat option is to remove the marrow, replace it with canned pumpkin and freeze it. Your dog will love this!
Small bone slices are not recommended. I actually had a client that had a dog that got one stuck on his lower jaw. It took four people at the emergency room to get it off. Antler bones are an excellent choice and come in elf, moose, and deer. While these may seem very expensive, one bone will last a lifetime. Make sure the antler is size appropriate to the size of your dog. Hooves are not recommended, because they are sharp and can cause cuts in the dogs mouth.
Rawhides carry a higher percentage of a choking hazard and are not recommended. There really is not any dental benefit. If you give your dog rawhide, supervise your dog. Buy only manufactured or made in the USA and size appropriate for your dog. If you use any type of tendon, select very long pieces and when they get too small toss them as they become a choking hazard. Free range or organic grown pigs ears are the best. Always check the product inventory and ask questions at your favorite dog food supplier if you have questions.
Dr. Becker ranked the best to worst chews:
Fresh marrow bones
You should feel comfortable with the products you select and where they are manufacturered. if you aren't sure ask. If you are concerned about your dogs dental health, speak with your veterinarian. If you stay on top of your dogs general health, gums and teeth, this can lead to a longer and healthy lifespan.