July 25, 2008

Dog Breath

Treatment of Bad Breath

1) Yearly Checkups
Even if you do not give yearly booster vaccinations it is wise to take your pet to a veterinarian yearly to get a general checkup that includes a dental exam. The older your pet is the more important early exams become.

2) Diet
To retard the formation of plaque feed your pet a name brand dry commercial pet food. The crunchy biscuits help massage gums and wear away tartar. Some brands, like Friskys, market dental diets engineered to minimize plaque and massage the gums. Other brands incorporate enzymes to dissolve plaque. One of the worst things you can do to your pet’s teeth is to feed canned diets. The build up of plaque in pets fed soft, canned diets is very rapid. In a Duke University study, it was found that feeding cow tracheas (windpipes) with a little meat attached kept dogs teeth in great condition. Other investigations in research dog colonies fount that feeding oxtails once a week prevented serious periodontal disease.

3) Treats
Feeding chewy treats (like cow ears), bones, rawhide and treats impregnated with enzymes minimize dental plaque. Nylon bones work equally as well if the pet accepts them.

If you give your pet real bones be sure they are heavy shin and shank bones. Dogs and cats do better chewing on bones if they start when they are puppies and kittens. Do not give your pet chicken bones.

4) Brushing teeth
Brushing your pet’s teeth is the most important thing you can to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Use a child’s toothbrush and meat or malt favored toothpaste designed for animals. Use a very small amount of toothpaste – it is the brushing that is important – and concentrate on the gum margins. . If you start when your pet is a puppy or kitten the pet will not dislike the procedure. Even older pets learn to accept the toothbrush.

5) Mouth wash and sprays
Veterinary hospitals and pet supply out lets sell chlorhexidine sprays and mouthwashes that contain enzymes that dissolve plaque and help reduce bacteria. They are not nearly as effective as brushing the teeth but are better than no home care.

Manual tartar removal
If your pet has a placid temperament it is not difficult to scrap the tartar from the teeth and clean under the margins of the gums at home. Many pet professionals perform excellent tooth cleaning at home eliminating the need to have their pet anesthetized at a veterinary clinic. Your veterinarian or a pet supply catalog is a good source for a tartar-scraping tool. The best ones are double ended, one end suitable for the right and the other for the left hand side of the mouth.

Ultrasonic cleaning
Because the whine of the ultrasonic machine is distressing to most animals, this procedure is performed with general anesthetic or heavy tranquilization. Since it is often older patients, many of whom have heart disease, that need the procedure, I keep them under very light anesthetic.

Removal of diseased teeth
Once the ligaments that fasten teeth to the bone of the jaw have been damaged by periodontal disease ultrasonic cleaning will not heal them. Mildly loose teeth can sometimes be preserved by cleaning and several weeks of doxycycline therapy either with oral tablets or oral patches. Severely loose teeth are best removed. Dogs and cats do very well with few remaining teeth. Problems are more in the minds of owners due to fear than to any difficulties experienced by the pets.

Tooth restorations
Some veterinarians and dentists specialize in crowns for damaged pet teeth. Other than for attack dogs, this is a purely cosmetic procedure satisfying the owner, not the pet. I suggest you spend the money on your pets in other ways – such as a trips with your pet to the country or the park and contributions to your local Humane Society.

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