Caring for a senior dog: Dental Care

Dental care is very important for senior dogs.

Caring for a dog’s teeth should have started way back when she was a pup. Proper dental care includes getting the pup used to brushing her teeth.

But if one did not know this as most owners, it is not yet too late to care for a dog’s teeth.

However, it is important to start now.

“Dental disease can cause unnecessary pain for your dog and can also have adverse effects on the heart, liver, and kidneys,” Petfinder says.

Young or senior dogs are given chew toys and a treat that cleanses the teeth. But please remember that treats should only comprise 10 per cent of a dog's food intake. If you are brushing your dog's teeth regularly, give a dental treat only three times a week at most.  All treats have preservatives and preservatives are of course not good for  your dog.
Regular care can keep a dog’s teeth, mouth and gums healthy.

1. Brush you dog’s teeth

You can use a toothbrush or if the dog does not like a toothbrush, you can use a soft cloth wrapped around your finger and brush the teeth using a toothpaste that is specifically made for dogs. DO NOT USE REGULAR OR HUMAN TOOTHPASTE.

Some owners also use activated charcoal aside from dog toothpaste. Mix it with water as instructed on the label, then dip the cloth or cotton in the mixture, and rub softly around the teeth and parts of the gums and mouth that you can reach. Activated charcoal helps remove  bacteria from the mouth which can cause a lot of illnesses.

“Brushing your dog’s teeth is the ‘gold standard’ of dental home care. There are a number of different options that you can use to brush your dog’s teeth. Long handled toothbrushes made specifically for dogs are available as are finger brushes. Use a toothpaste made specifically for pets. Do not use your own toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth,” Petfinder says.

2. Schedule a regular teeth cleaning with the vet

Petfinder says the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends that a SENIOR dog’s teeth be checked twice a year.

“When you do, your veterinarian will typically inspect your dog’s teeth, mouth and gums. A thorough veterinary dental examination is best completed under an anesthetic. This will allow your veterinarian to properly clean your dog’s teeth both below and above the gum line. Your veterinarian will also check each individual tooth for signs of disease and, in many cases, even take dental radiographs (x-rays). Your dog’s teeth will also be polished to restore a smooth surface to the teeth,” Petfinder says.

Shakti, now 10 years old,  was  born with small teeth.  Her dry dog food is soaked in natural food of boiled vegetable that are good for dogs and a little meat.  This ensures that she still gets the nutrients he needs but she will not have difficulty eating her food.
3. Give chew toys

AAHA says chew toys help with dental care.

“Provide chew toys that help massage your pet’s gums and keep their teeth clean,” AAHA says.

4. Look out for signs of dental disease

“According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), pet owners should be on the lookout for signs that dental disease might already be present,” Petfinder says.

When you see the following symptoms, bring your dog to the vet:

a. Bad breath. “Most pets have breath that is less than fresh, but if it becomes truly repugnant, that’s a sign that periodontal disease has already started,” Petfinder explains.

b. Frequent pawing. The dog often rubs or paws at the face and/or mouth.

c. Avoids hard food. Your dog may start to avoid  hard food or dry  food or is reluctant to eat dry food.  Please  bring to the vet and change his diet from kibble to canned (soft) food or a home-made food with lots of liquid and put some  dry food which have been soaked in water or broth.

d. The gums are red or swollen or the teeth are brownish or worse, both.  Please bring to the vet immediately.

“Good dental care can make a big difference in your senior dog’s health and comfort so don’t hesitate…start your dog’s healthy mouth regimen today!” says Petfinder. (DC)

Editor’s Note: More dental care tips will be provided for both pups, young adult dogs, and senior dogs in future issues of Sunday Pets Page.

Topics: Senior dog , Dental Care
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