Clean Teeth and the Uncooperative Dog
Whatever the reason, brushing teeth seems to be low on the priority list for most pet owners. To make matters worse, it seems that many adult dogs don’t want their teeth scrubbed.
There are the obvious issues associated with a dog’s dirty mouth. Who wants to be kissed by a canine companion whose breath can make you faint? Or to look at yellow and brown stained teeth?
Bad teeth can trigger serious, even life-threatening, health problems in a dog, including heart, kidney, liver, and joint disease. The link of gum disease to heart conditions in humans has been well established. Now research is showing that the same thing happens in dogs. A study of the health records of 59,296 dogs showed that dogs with gum disease had more heart problems.
To encourage daily brushing, it makes sense to use the easiest method possible, which is why many veterinary dentists steer people away from the obvious tool—the toothbrush—if the dog was not made accustomed to the brush during puppyhood.
Try dental wipes, especially ones containing the plaque-fighting chemical chlorhexidine gluconate, which destroys the bacteria that cause gum disease. It takes just seconds, and owners should be able to fit it into even the busiest schedule and the smallest mouth.
For uncooperative pets and for additional protection, there are chews, washes, and diets designed for dental care. Gels that contain sodium hexametaphosphate are particularly effective, because they work by inhibiting the development of plaque.
The Veterinary Oral Health Council, an organization that analyzes research on dental products for animals, publishes a list of those that meet their criteria for plaque and tartar reduction. The list, as well as the criteria used to judge these products, can be viewed at the VOHC’s web site, vohc.org.