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There’s an old saying – Ignore your dog’s teeth and they will go away – or worse!

Your best buddy has 42 adult teeth. Twelve are incisors in the front, used to grasp. Four canines which are fang-like, used to tear. On the sides there are sixteen premolars used to grind. In the rear are ten molars, also used to grind. Dogs are blessed with a much stronger set of teeth than humans. The enamel that coats the teeth is very thick, making them resistant to cavities. Although cavities may be rare, periodontal disease isn’t. It is a common problem when teeth are neglected. It starts with a brown film called plaque that builds up on the teeth. If untreated, it then becomes a cement-like substance. It works its way under the gum, where a pocket forms, allowing bacteria laden debris to collect. Because dogs are self groomers, hair will also lodge in these gaps.

Periodontal disease causes sore gums, loose teeth, abscessing

of the roots, and general poor health. Much worse, this bacteria can spread to the circulatory system and settle in major organs, causing deadly kidney, liver and heart disease. Symptoms of periodontal disease start with foul breath, red or bleeding gums, painful chewing, reluctance to eat, jaw or neck swelling, drooling, nasal discharge, or irritability. At the first sign of any of these symptoms TAKE ACTION! See your vet – Now!

There are several ways to prevent dental problems and keep your best friend’s

teeth and gums healthy. Here we go!

First of all, vets recommend daily brushing, but most will agree that 1-2 times a week would keep plaque at bay. The trick is to start them young, make it a pleasant experience and be very gentle. Use a child’s toothbrush or finger brush with chicken or beef flavored toothpaste, or just dip in broth.

Brush my dog’s teeth – surely you jest! OK, so now that we’ve established the fact that brushing your pal’s teeth is not in your future – let’s move on to Plan B.

Providing your pal with kibble, milk bones or dog biscuits daily will help prevent plaque. But keep in mind that many dogs just gulp and swallow. Alternatives that require chewing are raw carrots, hard rubber toys, rawhide, or large knuckle bones.

Remember, when the teeth go, the rest will soon follow. 80% of all dogs will develop periodontal disease by the time they reach 5 years of age. Regular dental exams by your vet are crucial, thus preventing dental problems from taking hold. Dental cleaning means scaling and polishing, a procedure that requires sedation and should only be done by your vet or his trained technician. Dental care is not a luxury – it is a necessity!! Remember, we are talking about the comfort and health of your very best friend. Please make an appointment for a dental check-up soon. You will be so proud of yourself when he flashes you that dazzling smile, showing off his pearly whites!

Questions or comments? Call Chic.

Chic Miller Bella Vista Farms Animal Sanctuary 4301 Lower Gas Point Road

Cottonwood, CA 96022 530-347-0544

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