How do I care for my dog’s teeth?

Doggy breath is no laughing matter. Dental disease is a serious threat to a dog’s health, and nearly every dog suffers from it at some point. When leftover particles of food are not removed from a dog’s teeth, debris and bacteria combine to form a harder substance known as tartar, or calculus.

The bacteria-laden material comes between the surface of the tooth and the gums, resulting in inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). More importantly, the bacteria found on and around a dog’s diseased teeth easily enter the bloodstream, where they infect the liver, the valves of the heart, and the kidneys.

The resulting disease shortens the life of your canine companion. Daily brushing with enzymatic toothpaste designed for dogs can help prevent dental disease. There are also special foods, mouth rinses, chew treats, and gels that prevent and control dental disease in dogs.

As a responsible dog owner, commit yourself to developing a home dental care program for your dog. Discuss your options with your veterinarian, and be sure he or she examines your dog’s teeth annually.