Why you should be keeping your dog’s teeth pearly white

WASHINGTON — February is National Pet Dental Health Month and according to Veterinarian Dr. Katy Nelson, there has never been a better time to think about your dog’s oral health.

“Our dentist tells us to floss and brush everyday and use fluoride to keep our teeth healthy, and that’s not just so we have a white smile, that’s so we don’t have bacteria and tartar build up in our mouth that can potentially go into our body and cause infection and reek havoc every where,” Nelson said.

Speaking from experience, Nelson said she has seen large numbers of dogs with swollen gums and most pet owners don’t think about the pain associated with gum disease.

Use the empathy we have for pets and look after their teeth, said Nelson.

Nelson advises pet owners who are in doubt as to whether their dog has gingivitis to take them to a vet and have a check done.

If they have mild tartar then there are a number of things that can be done at home to stop the problem from getting worse. The Veterinary Oral Health Council is a good resource, said Nelson.

If they need to have a full clean, and the dog needs to be anesthetized, there is no need for a dog owner to be overtly concerned. As long as the pet is healthy, the risks are minimal, according to Nelson.

The protocols are very safe and it is worth it, said Nelson, rather than sentencing the pet “to years of pain.”

Nelson does not advise a clean without anesthesia as it can’t be as thorough.

Pet dental care can also be carried out at home. There’s flavored tooth paste, dental chews, bones and different sizes of brushes, Nelson said.

Nelson advises brushing a dog’s teeth up to three times a week.

“In 17 years of practice, I’ve never seen someone who is brushing their pet’s teeth too much,” she said.

There are also several signs that your pet’s teeth are in need of a good clean. These include strong breath, seeing green or brown tartar and if your pet is not eating well.

If in doubt, take a trip to a vet, said Nelson.

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