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Old Dog Haven Brings Joy to Senior Dogs - and Their New FamiliesBy Donna Spector

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Did you know that dental disease is the number one health issue affecting dogs? According to the American Veterinary Dental College, most dogs have some evidence of periodontal disease by 3 years of age.


Periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth form a substance—called plaque—that sticks to the surfaces of the teeth. Minerals from the saliva then harden this plaque into dental tartar, which is firmly attached to the teeth. Many owners can see tartar on the teeth—but it is the tartar under the gums that is the biggest problem. Once tartar spreads under the gum line, there will be destruction of the bone and supporting tissues around the tooth. This painful process not only causes bad breath but will lead to loss of the affected tooth and is even capable of causing damage to your dog’s vital organs like the kidneys, heart and liver.


At-home prevention of periodontal disease is as important as regular teeth cleaning by veterinarians. In fact, unless you clean your dogs’ teeth at home, periodontal disease will progress regardless of the care provided by veterinarians.


Brush, brush, brush!

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Dogs should have their own toothbrushes with bristles that reach under the gum line. There are many dog toothpaste flavors available and most seem to prefer the poultry-flavored types. Ask your vet to teach you the proper technique for brushing your dog’s teeth.


For best results, toothbrushing should start when dogs are young and will easily adjust to teeth cleaning at home. If your dog is completely unwilling to allow brushing, there are dental wipes that can help control plaque when rubbed twice daily against the teeth and gums.


Veterinary teeth cleaning

Dogs will still intermittently require dental cleanings by their veterinarian to prevent periodontal disease from occurring. The frequency of these cleanings will depend on the success of the at-home dental care. They may be as frequent as every 4 to 6 months in a dog with severe periodontal disease or only every 2 to 3 years if you have been dedicated to maintaining your dog’s dental health at home. This month, work with your vet to create a dental care plan that keeps your dog’s bad breath away and will help maintain his health for years to come!


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