Your dog’s breath can do more than let you know he’s been eating all the cat treats! If your dog’s breath is particularly and consistently bad, it could be a sign of gum disease. The good news is, you don’t have to be a doggie dentist to at least make an initial go at inspecting your dog’s mouth – and teeth.
For starters, open your dog’s mouth wide (and gently) and take a look. Now, remember those posters you see at your dentist’s office. If you spot red or swollen gums, or that yellow tartar build-up along the gum line, that’s not a good sign. If your dog’s gums are tender to the touch, or are bleeding, then you’ll want to make an appointment with your veterinarian for a through inspection and a cleaning. Not for you; for your dog.
Good oral health is serious business – even for dogs. Just like for us two-legged types, gum disease can cause other, whole body health problems. That tartar build-up we talked about? That can lead to potential gum infection or a potential abscess that can get worse and worse. By the time the pain slows or stops your dog from eating, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the dog’s body and make them seriously sick. And, yes, cavities and tooth loss are also potential issues as a result of poor dental health.
Your veterinarian should give your dog’s mouth a close look during your dog’s annual check-up, but in between time you can help keep their mouth and teeth in tip-top shape. (Your dog’s, not your veterinarian’s!) Yes, you can brush your dog’s teeth. You can use a clean cloth or most any toothbrush, but don’t use your toothpaste. Ask your vet or favorite pet supply retailer about toothpastes made just for dogs, or make your own using baking soda and water. If you’re not sure you’re up to the task, ask for a show-and-tell at your dog’s next visit to the vet.