When Echo was about 7 years old, she took off after one of my horses who klonked her in the head, breaking one of her molars. That broken tooth would end up causing her premature death.
Besides being kicked by a hooved animal, dogs can find a bunch of other ways to break their teeth. One is chewing rocks. Another is gnawing on hard bones or sticks. Still another is using their teeth as a tool — to rip off or make escape-sized holes in chain link fencing, for example.
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I cannot emphasize enough the role dental hygiene and maintenance plays in preserving good health.
By the time most dogs are just 3 years old, about 70 percent of them have dental disease that will lead to deteriorating health.
Periodontal disease begins with the build up of plaque. This layer thickens into tartar, which won’t disappear on its own.
Tartar travels under the gum. It causes swelling, bleeding, and mouth odor. This inflammation is a breeding ground for bacteria and leads to gum recession.
Left untreated, the tooth, bone and ligament begin to deteriorate. At this stage the impact on health is potentially life-threatening.
Systemic spread of the bacteria in the mouth can poison seemingly unrelated parts of the body: The dog may end up having problems with
- Heart valve deterioration
More and more veterinarians recommending regular tooth-brushing for dogs.
When they were younger, I did not have an issue with teeth in my dogs who eat a primarily raw diet. But I noticed that if I feed kibble (even high quality, which I do from time to time) then the teeth would begin to collect plaque.
While this is a “skill” that is easier to teach when the dog is young, you can still teach that old dog new tricks. You might try flavored toothpaste such as Bluestem. Many customer reviews note that their dogs love the flavor.
For smaller dogs or puppies, you might try this little finger-cap toothbrush.
Be sure to keep an eye on the condition of your dog’s teeth. And keep in mind that teeth covered with tartar pose a life-threat to your dog. So get if your dog’s teeth are not pearly white, thee to a Veterinarian who can clean the teeth – and strive to keep them that way.
Also, as they aged, it seemed they were both more susceptible to plaque. And in Alice’s case, we did have her teeth professionally cleaned. One vet we used suggested we use Clenz-a-dent. Alice got a tiny scoop of that daily for the last few years of her life – and she never needed another cleaning again. So from personal experience, I can wholeheartedly recommend this.
If you feed kibble, or your dog is aging you might find that your dog’s teeth needing attention. In this case, Clenz-a-dent may either take care of the plaque— or at least extend the amount of time— between professional cleaning. But if that fails, or you want a different option, you can brush your dog’s teeth. It comes with a toothbrush as well.