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Benefits of Tooth Brushing for Dogs

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Authored by Douglas Mefford in Dogs
Published on 11-07-2009

It is a well-established fact that good dental care is necessary for good health and wellbeing. Teaching children to brush their teeth is an important job of parents. The same health benefits also apply to our pet dogs. This fact is obviously overlooked by the majority of pet owners as dental disease is the most common and prevalent health problem dogs suffer from.

Just as in humans, there are many benefits to tooth brushing for your dog. To begin with, brushing helps remove the plaque buildup that food can cause on teeth. Plaque on your dog’s teeth is the sticky film left from food particles, mucus and bacteria. As well as making your dog’s gums sore, this plaque can lead to a tartar buildup. Without proper cleaning the plaque can harden which leads to tooth decay and other periodontal disease.

Sore gums from this buildup can lead to gingivitis. The gums become inflamed and infected. As the condition worsens, the gums can pull back from the teeth and expose more of the root. This allows a greater concentration of bacteria to gather until periodontitis sets in. The infection spreads to the jaw bones and ligaments supporting the teeth. Abscesses form and the pain caused by chewing will prevent the dog from eating properly and thus weaken its health further. Eventually your dog will begin to loose teeth and even develop blood poisoning from the bacterial waste produced in the damaged tissue.

As these bacterial wastes poison your dog, the immune system is weakened and makes it easier for any disease to develop. Organ damage can occur through this type of infection. Heart problems develop. Heart murmurs are the most common ailment as the heart valves are corrupted. The liver and kidneys can also be affected by a condition called amyloidosis. As the amyloidal proteins build up in these organs the kidneys lose function and can ultimately shut down and kill your pet.

Brushing your dog’s teeth will, at the very least, help prevent the foul odor know as “doggy breathe” from keeping you from enjoying close contact with your pet. Remember that the belief in dry dog food being sufficient to clean a dog’s teeth is just that, an unsubstantiated misconception. Brushing your dog’s teeth can be a simple and painless procedure. There are a number of devices available to facilitate this necessary chore.

The hardest part is in getting your dog used to the idea of you messing around in their mouth. You can start with putting something tasty like peanut butter on your finger and rubbing it around in his gums and teeth. Once your dog gets used to you rubbing in his mouth you can begin wrapping a bit of gauze around your finger as you do the massage. This will help get some of the loose food off immediately. Finally you can begin with a dog toothbrush, either the short rubbery type or the kind that fit over your fingertips, to do the best actual brushing. Do not make the mistake of using a human toothbrush or toothpaste. There are special varieties made especially for dogs that do not contain abrasives that could make them ill.

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