My mommy cracks up every time she sees a dog wearing dentures in the Pedigree Dentastix commercial. But dog dentures are no laughing matter — and probably should become a reality considering how many pet parents forget about the mouths of their little pals.
Even though I’m a dog, my teeth are important to me as my mommy’s are to her. However, dental care for pooches is one of the most overlooked areas of health care. Four out of five canines over three years old have gum disease because pet parents don’t realize that our teeth need proper care, the same as theirs. Now that it is National Pet Dental Health Month.
Brushing our teeth regularly, an annual oral examination and sometimes even a professional cleaning are vital to our health. Dental disease can lead to heart, lung and kidney disease. Small dogs like me are more prone to periodontal disease than big dogs. Tooth decay and gum disease led to me having some of my teeth pulled and some of my teeth fell out because so much tartar, a contributor to gum disease, was wedged under my gums. I can still eat dry dog food (and anything else I’m given) with the few teeth I have left.
My mommy is wonderful and spoils me in so many ways. I just wished she had brushed my teeth as much as she did hers when I was younger. Now she keeps my toothbrush and toothpaste, which has a yummy turkey flavor, next to hers to help her remember.
I actually like having my teeth brushed. I think most pooches are like me and will let you brush their teeth. But if they don’t, as an alternative, give your furry friends hard dog biscuits, chews or an occasional raw marrow bone to help reduce the buildup of tartar. Try not to give them prepackaged bones, which often contain preservatives and several ingredients that even a smart dog like me can’t pronounce. Those so-called treats can do more harm than good.
Vets usually recommend professional cleaning as early as one year old for small dogs and two years for large dogs. As long as I can remember, I’ve had my teeth professionally cleaned annually and each time I’ve had anesthesia administered with no problems. But before I do, the vet always examines me thoroughly to make sure I’m healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. That’s important!
But even with an annual cleaning, I still had periodontal disease. That’s why daily brushing is a necessity. Don’t confuse brushing your pets’ teeth with pampering. It’s a health necessity. Do it so they will be healthy enough to travel with you.
Watch this video of Dr. Sheldon Rubin, who gives easy, step-by-step instructions on how to teach a dog or cat to accept a daily tooth brushing. He also describes healthy treats and explains the true risks of periodontal disease in pets.