Many pet owners may be surprised to learn a dog’s dental health is as important to overall well-being as a daily game of fetch.
Dental problems in pets go way beyond bad breath. Periodontal disease is the most common health problem in dogs today. At least 80 percent of dogs suffer from it by age 2. Left untreated, dental problems can be very painful and affect the quality of a pet’s life.
Small-breed dogs under 20 pounds are at an even greater risk than larger breeds. First, small dogs have small mouths that crowd the teeth, and second, those teeth are excessively large for those small jaws.
Fortunately, small breeds don’t need to suffer, says Dr. Daniel Carmichael, veterinary dental specialist with the Veterinary Medical Center in West Islip, N.Y. He recommends:
1. See your veterinarian for regular dental checkups. Work with your vet to schedule regular professional dental checkups and ask how you can maintain your pet’s dental health. Monitor for bad breath, which can be a sign of a more serious dental problem.
2. Brush those canines. Daily tooth brushing is the best way to remove and prevent plaque build- up. You can try the new state-of-the-art Hartz® Dental™ Electric Tooth-brush to make brushing your dog’s teeth easier. It features a vibrating brush head and, when used as directed, is clinically proven to reduce tartar by 85 percent and plaque by 28 percent after three weeks. Use toothpaste made for dogs (beef-flavored paste is appealing to pets) as it’s designed to be swallowed and does not foam up in the mouth.
3. Choose smart snacks for your dog. Chewing rawhide has been proven in clinical studies to help reduce plaque and tartar. Tasty beef and chicken flavors encourage your pooch to chew longer, increasing the dental benefits. Another option is Hartz® Dental™ Nutri-Fresh Chew™ with OdorZap™ crystals to freshen breath, in addition to reducing tartar up to 61 percent.
4. Provide toys with dental benefits. Some newer chew toys have raised tips that help remove plaque and tartar. The Hartz® Dental™ Chew™ ‘n Clean® Deli Cuts are one example and come in three yummy flavors. These toys provide chewing exercise to strengthen gums and help relieve anxiety and boredom.