Friday, February 5, 2010

February is Doggy Dental Month

Jupiter is a recent addition to the HOTLR family. Ain't he just gorgeous? This picture says to me that dogs most definitely smile. How can we as pet owners ensure that our dog's smile is as beautiful as Jupiter's?

How about giving your pet's mouth a good once over to determine if a tooth cleaning might be in order? Why clean your dog's teeth, do you ask? How about that stinky "doggy breath" just for starters. Wouldn't it be nice to be rid of that? That unpleasant condition is not the fault of your dog, or something you're doing wrong, but there is something you can do about it.

"Doggy breath" (aka "halitosis") is caused by the same exact things that cause bad breath in people. Bacteria, poor oral health or an oral infection can lead to the offensive odor. We have the luxury of brushing our teeth to help rid our mouths of the odor and to help eliminate the bacteria causing the bad breath. But although pet owners can brush their dog's teeth, few of us do.

How do you know if your dog might need a good teeth cleaning? Lift up your dog's lip, check out his teeth, especially the teeth in the back. Do you see any brown, sticky buildup, or worse yet, is one of your dog's teeth broken?

Dogs acquire plaque and tartar buildup just like people. It happens in the course of every day eating and drinking. After a few years, the tartar becomes evident on a dog's teeth by forming a barrier on the tooth and discoloring the tooth. Over time, the bacteria causing the tartar can effect your pet's kidneys, heart and liver. Each time your pet eats, drinks or swallows, they are swallowing some of this harmful bacteria.

Broken teeth can cause abscesses which can lead to infections in the mouth eroding the underlying gum tissue and bone structure. You can bet if your dog has a broken tooth, he is experiencing pain every time he eats or chews. Eating crunchy kibble and chewing on bones, ropes and other veterinarian approved chew toys aids in removing plaque from the teeth. Therefore, having a healthy pain-free mouth will also help to make sure it stays that way.

Well, what's a dog owner to do? Take him to the vet, of course and have an oral exam done by your veterinarian. Your vet can then recommend treatment and tell you if a teeth cleaning is in order. The beautiful thing about dental month is that many veterinary practitioners are offering discounts for dental cleaning this month. So give your vet a call, and check it out.

For more information on doggy dental disease check out February is Pet Dental Month at

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