March 5, 2013

Mythbuster – Your Dog’s Mouth is Not Cleaner Than Yours

Filed under: Dog Skin Problems,Dr. Loridawn's Lessons — Tags: — Dr. Loridawn Gordon @ 10:00 am

Observe your dogOral - Dog Health’s oral behavior. They clean themselves, lick other animals’ behinds, and are not particularly discriminating about what they put in their mouths. Unless your dog has taken to regular tooth brushing and flossing, don’t think your best friend’s mouth is cleaner than yours.

Dental hygiene is often forgotten since other pet health concerns often take center stage. Halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, could be a sign of lack of dental hygiene in pets. However, halitosis is often a sign of digestive issues (a topic I’ll explore next month). Regardless of the cause of bad breath, it is important to care for your dog’s teeth. Dental hygiene is important for your dog’s overall health because it can affect the health of their kidneys and other organs.  There is a long list of gum, mouth, and other systemic diseases that we want to prevent in our furry friends.

How well do you think you know your dog? Let’s start a little quiz. How many teeth do you think your dog has? The answer: An adult dog has forty-two teeth. It’s best that you start paying attention to those forty-two pearly whites. Your dog may not like you looking into his/her mouth, but it is important to regularly check their gums and their teeth.   Once you become familiar with what is normal, you will more easily detect changes, such as bleeding gums, abscesses, broken and missing teeth, and objects stuck between your pet’s teeth which could benefit your dog’s long term health.

While it is tempting to go into your bathroom medicine cabinet and grab the first tube of toothpaste to clean your dog’s teeth, stop yourself.  Human toothpaste should never be used on your dog because of the fluoride. Fluoride should not be swallowed by you or your pet. Humans learn to spit toothpaste out, but dogs don’t know any better than swallow it. Instead, go to a pet store and purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste that has been designed for a dog. You can even choose flavours in toothpaste ranging from poultry, beef, seafood, and even peanut butter.

Tooth brushing is a process with your dog that cannot be rushed. Start with a small step each day. Reassure your pet with love and attention. It is only necessary to brush the outside of their teeth because their tongues will take care of the inside. They may not like the taste of toothpaste or the feel of a brush in his/her mouth, so perhaps just brush one tooth on the first day. It is important to not rush the tooth brushing process, so take your time with your pet and make the experience fun and rewarding. It may take anywhere from a month or two for your dog to get use to brushing his/her teeth, but eventually it will become a part of their daily routine.

If you require more information, consult your veterinarian on the benefits of professional teeth cleaning. Your pet’s dental hygiene is a crucial part in keeping them healthy and happy.


Dr. Loridawn Gordon


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Disclaimer: 1st Pet Naturals is an education resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet is taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.