Bad teeth can make your dog really sick
According to Top Dog winner Dr. Courtney Anders of Pearl Animal Hospital, poor dental hygiene can put your pet in danger of not only tooth loss, but systemic illness. “Bacteria begins turning into calcified tartar within 48 hours and you can’t brush that off,” advises the doctor. “Bacteria can also get into the bloodstream and localize anywhere. We’re talking adverse effects on the heart, the liver, and the kidneys.”
If you go too long, your dog can lose teeth
“If you’re just reactive to dental disease, we’re gonna end up extracting teeth,” Anders says. Those extractions are going to turn a routine cleaning into major dental surgery that will require your pet to be under anesthesia longer, which is always a risk. That’s not to mention how tooth loss affects your pet’s quality of life.
It’s WAY more expensive in the long run if you don’t
Anders says that with proper daily dental care, you’ll still have to take your dog in for cleanings, but probably not as often. That can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the course of your pet’s life. “The idea is to act proactively so you’re not just responding to horrible [gum] disease,” says Anders.
If you start slowly, it’s easier than you think
“Initially what I get is ‘Are you serious? You want me to brush my dog’s teeth every day?’” laughs Anders. “It is awkward, but if you start slowly, with just your finger and a little dog toothpaste, you can work up to it.”
Important note! Never use human toothpaste for your dog — foaming agents and other chemicals might make your mouth feel minty fresh, but not so much for animals.
Bad breath is a downer for your dog, too!
“By the time you’re smelling bad breath, you’ve got something happening in there,” Anders warns. “That’s bacteria, that’s the beginnings of periodontal disease.” Once bacteria gets below the gum line, it can start to eat away at the bone — just like in humans — and left untreated can result in tooth loss.
Dr. Anders says that can be especially true for older dogs. “A lot of people think it’s just their pet aging when they aren’t interested in playing anymore or become withdrawn, or they don’t want to eat or chew as much,” she says. “But actually their mouth hurts. It’s amazing how much of a difference healthy teeth can make.”
Michele Coppola is a veteran Portland radio personality and copywriter for Entercom Radio as well as the new Managing Editor for Spot Magazine. She shares a home and couch space with her three rescue pooches Lucy, Bailey, and Ginny--as well as Bryon, the stray man she married six years ago.