How Should I Take Care of My Dog’s Teeth?

Linda, of Canton, asks and Mike of Premier Pet Supply has the answer.

Keeping up with your pup’s oral hygiene is important. And, with February being National Pet Dental Health Month, there’s no better time to acknowledge Fido’s teeth than right now.

Just like with people, bad breath isn’t just a disgusting cosmetic issue. It can actually be a red flag for other health problems, like periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common health problems in dogs and cats. The condition happens when oral bacteria attaches to teeth as a part of plaque. Together, the bacteria and plaque expand under the gum line, causing inflammation and the loss of soft tissue that surrounds the tooth. When the gum swells, it allows the oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream before it gets carried to the heart, liver and kidneys.

How quickly the disease occurs depends on the animal’s age, diet and breed. Chihuahuas and dachshunds are predisposed to periodontal disease. Signs of periodontal disease include bad breath, swollen gums, nasal discharge and drooling.

Neglecting your pet’s oral hygiene can also cause chronic pain issues and certain behavioral problems. So, it’s of the utmost importance to ward off possible problems.

If you can, brush your dog’s teeth at home, and do it often. Dogs don’t chew with their front teeth, which means they are not getting cleaned. I suggest following up the process with a healthy treat or reward for your pup.

In conjunction with regular brushing, one option to explore is dental bones, which can remove tartar and plaque from your dog’s teeth while they chew. As always, with anything edible, monitor your dog while he’s enjoying a dental bone.

Plaque and tartar can be removed from your dog’s gum line during a professional cleaning at the veterinarian’s office. During the procedure, the teeth are polished to remove the pits left by the tartar. Each tooth is then examined one-by-one to check overall health. Typically, anesthesia is used in professional dental cleanings, which can be risky business for older dogs.

If your dog has never had a professional cleaning – or if it has been a while – ask your vet to check out his chompers during your next visit.

Got a question for Mike? Email your question to


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