Dental hygiene forms an important part of the care for all dogs, and as this is something that your furbaby is unable to do for himself, it falls to you as his committed and responsible owner to undertake this on his behalf. By taking good care of your dog’s teeth from puppyhood, you can help to minimize his risk of developing oral health conditions and from these affecting his general health. However, no canine’s teeth are infallible. As your dog gets older, any dental problems that may be developing can start to cause serious issues for his health and comfort. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to support the dental hygiene of your senior pet throughout his golden years.
Why is dental hygiene so important?
Unless you are an experienced owner, you may well not realize that you need to pay special attention to the dental hygiene of your furbaby. Nevertheless, just like us, your dog is reliant on his teeth for biting and chewing his food and failing to look after them can make it difficult and painful for him to eat. While this is unpleasant in itself, there is a much more serious problem that can occur.
Studies have shown that the health and condition of your pet’s teeth can have a detrimental impact on his overall well-being. Health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, liver and kidney disorders, thyroid function and cancer have all been shown to be more common in patients, and in this case dogs, who suffer from dental disease. Dental disease, also known as gum or periodontal disease, is an inflammatory infection that occurs when the plaque and tartar that can accumulate on your dog’s teeth can start to irritate the soft tissue of his gums. Dental disease is extremely common amongst dogs, with around 1 in 3 showing signs of the condition by the time they reach their 3rd birthday. Unfortunately, the damage caused by dental disease is irreversible. Instead, you should focus on preventing it from as much as possible.
This is something that is particularly important for your senior dog as his natural ability to fight infection becomes compromised by age, making him less likely to be able to combat the effects of dental disease.
Here are our top tips for maintaining your senior pet’s dental hygiene.
Brush his teeth regularly
Hopefully you do already, but if you don’t, you need to start brushing your older dog’s teeth right now. If you do brush, but not daily, then you should start trying to make this important process part of your day-to-day routine. This is because brushing his teeth is the only way to remove the plaque and tartar that will lead to dental disease. Choose a soft-bristled brush and a special pet toothpaste, never human toothpaste as this will be highly toxic to your furbaby. Pay special attention to the area where your dog’s teeth meet the gums as this is where plaque is most likely to congregate and start to affect and infect his gums. Offer plenty of love and praise afterwards and your dog will soon make a positive association with the process, making it far easier to your furbaby to accept.
Opt for dental treats
While treats should be given sparingly, there are some that are designed specifically for the dental health of dog’s and include ingredients that promote good dental hygiene. A dental treat once a day can actually boost the oral health of your senior dog.
Provide chew toys
Chewing is a natural instinct for most dogs, and a good way for them to relieve their boredom. It is also very beneficial for your canine’s teeth. This is because chewing stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away bacteria and food debris that cause plaque. By providing your senior dog with a chew toy, even one that is of the soft variety, you will help his dental hygiene.
Visit your vet regularly
Your veterinarian will have had training and experience that enables them to spot dental problems that your senior dog may be developing, as well as health complaints. By performing an assessment of your dog’s teeth, your vet may be able to identify if there are any dental issues that require support to prevent or treat them. Your vet can also perform a professional-grade dental clean for your dog, which is performed under general anesthetic and will get into the hard-to-reach areas of his mouth that might otherwise get overlooked.
If you are concerned about your senior dog’s dental health, you shouldn’t delay in arranging an appointment for a check-up. Problems can develop much more quickly and have much more serious consequences the older your dog gets. To book your consultation with our dedicated and experienced veterinarians, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices based in Atlanta, GA.