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Brushing your dog's teeth can extend their life and keep them healthy

We're celebrating February as the national pet dental health month.

To most people, dogs are just cute, little furry pets. But to the vet, there's a lot more to a good-looking pooch than what's on the outside. They can tell if a dog is healthy or not by looking at their teeth – and it's your job as a fur parent to take care of them.

If you don't take pride in your dog's dental hygiene, that habit may very well be the reason why they're getting sick or not living as long as they could be. The simplest way to keep them healthy is by brushing their teeth.

The commitment to brushing your pup's teeth regularly is the start of something noble. Though you don't give it that much thought since you feel like they don't need it, brushing your dog's teeth contributes to a healthier and longer life.

If you don't believe us, read on...

High risk of periodontal disease

A handful of diseases are associated with poor oral health. Periodontal disease is caused by bacterial plaque that forms in between your dog's teeth and gums. Once enough damage has been done, this becomes irreversible, which means you need to act fast.

If you let periodontal disease happen, it can affect your dog's heart and kidneys. Not only that, but it makes them more susceptible to other diseases, which can potentially shorten their lifespan. This is especially true for dogs with suppressed immune systems like the elderly, puppies, and dogs with chronic diseases like arthritis or diabetes.

So, how does brushing help prevent gum disease? A dog's teeth and gums are covered with plaque and tartar. Brushing helps remove these substances before they can cause harm to your dog's oral health.

Prevention will help you save trouble and money in the long run, especially when your dog needs dental surgery or veterinary treatments for diseases that start in their mouth. Remember that a "minor" bleeding gum issue may eventually lead to your pup's untimely demise, but you don't have to face that risk if you brush your dog's teeth.

The breath factor

You need to brush your dog's teeth to prevent bad breath. It is unpleasant for you and most definitely not fun to live with. Lacking proper dental care also gives rise to serious health conditions, i.e., heart problems.

Bad breath is your dog's way of telling you about their oral health status. If the smell offends you, it's offensive for them too. Sadly, they can't clean their teeth or possess the instinct to do it.

Since you feed your dog with various foods, you can't avoid them smelling at least a little. But the smell is going to be worse if there's no intervention on your part. Processed dog food brings with it a variety of preservatives that may not be harmful at first. But if you don't clean their teeth, those substances will thrive in the dog's mouth, causing an unpleasant smell. That smell is a sign of things to come, so don't ignore it.

A dog with bad breath is a sign of poor health, so don't think twice about putting effort into helping Fido get rid of it. Brush your dog's teeth as often as you brush yours.

Dental decay

The fact that dogs can't brush their teeth on their own makes them more susceptible to tooth decay or cavities. Keep in mind that it's not just sugars that cause these problems – dry pet food also contributes to the sticky film on your dog's teeth, leading to plaque buildup. If left untreated, the plaque will harden to form tartar, which can cause gum disease if it's not removed.

In addition to that, a dog that doesn't clean the food residue in their teeth are more likely to get a foreign body stuck in between, i.e., a piece of bone or wood splinters from chewable toys. They also may chip their teeth trying to chew something hard.

To counter this, you need to brush your dog's teeth. The frequency of brushing depends on the dog's age and health condition. For example, puppies need daily or almost-daily brushing while older dogs only need weekly care to prevent dental decay.

Gum disease, bad breath, and decay may seem like issues that all dogs go through. That's the same mindset that keeps owners complacent that nothing bad will happen to their furry buddies. But you can never be too careful when it comes to your pet, who's part of the family.

How brush your dog's teeth properly

You need to clean all sides of your dog's teeth, or at least the majority of them. Introduce them to tooth brushing right from the beginning, so they grow up accepting it as a part of their lives. Letting time pass will increase your dog's resistance towards this activity, which is more trouble than simply being proactive.

When it comes to brushing, you need the right supplies. A dog toothbrush is perfect for this, but make sure it's the right size to fit inside your dog's mouth. Also, check if the bristles are soft enough not to damage their teeth and gums. You can't use just any toothbrush on your pet.

Don't use human toothpaste for dogs. It isn't safe for animals to swallow that much fluoride. Instead, get a toothpaste specifically meant for your dog. It may taste better, which means they'll cooperate more during the process. If you need help brushing your dog's teeth, you can ask your vet for advice on the best approach and proper supplies.

Professional cleaning

Even if you brush your dog's teeth regularly, there's a reason for taking Fido to get a professional cleaning. This is the only way to remove the tartar buildup that has hardened on their teeth.

Your vet will examine your dog's mouth before deciding whether they need deep cleaning or not. Visit the vet once a year to schedule a checkup and teeth cleaning if necessary.

While it may seem like you're overcomplicating things when it comes to taking care of your dog's teeth, you really aren't. It only takes a few minutes every day to maintain good dental hygiene.


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