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Canine Sense - Did You Know

Check out these articles by Dr. Stanley Coren (BC, Canada) Canine Corner

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Have You Check Your Dog's Mouth Lately?

Where has February gone? The Olympics, maybe?

Did you know that since 2003 February has been called the Pet Dental Month? Most Vet Clinics have been offering a discount on dental cleaning in order to help you keep your dog healthy.

"Vision"senior's moment ruling - "Back off! He's mine!"

you can at least see those pearly whites!

If you haven't opened your dog's mouth this month and checked his/her teeth, then GO do so after reading this. And I mean look way into the back & sides of those big molars. Check for broken tips, slab fractures of those back molars; dogs with tight lip lines you need to gently pull down the lips by the bottom canines and check near the gums ... look at all the gum lines for redness & swelling, and bad breath, well something is wrong somewhere.

"Dental disease is not simply suffering from "bad breath" -- infections of the gums, teeth, and oral cavity can spread via the bloodstream to the heart and liver, possibly causing additional health problems."

Many vet offices at this time of year have a chart on their wall showing the direction dental disease/infection will travel to the organs. The one that I find it doesn't show, and some vets forget about this, is urinary tract infections (UTI), and bladder infections. Dog's naturally want to clean their 'private' parts, and if they have dental disease those bacteria just travel right up the urinary tract and cause havoc. So, if your dog has repeated, unexplained UTI's, then have a look at their mouth, you might be surprised what is lurking back there.

Now what if your dog doesn't like having its mouth handled? You need to take baby steps in getting your dog to accept this, and I like to reward with small soft treats after each session. Start 1st just by handling the muzzle, gently without any intent on lifting any lips and looking at their teeth. Once they accept this, then gently lift one lip side; then work to where you can place just place your finger in. Gradually work where you can reach down the side to the back molars, and then to where you can open the mouth fully and have a good look.

Shelties, at least the ones that don't grow way oversize, have a small mouth. I find the smaller the dog, the more likely it is that they will by 3 yrs of age develop tartar issues. Large breeds like Labs, Goldens, Standard Poodles have such a greater surface area with their larger teeth and mouth that food doesn't get caught in the upper back area of their jowls. Next time your sheltie eats a biscuit, or even their hard kibble dinner, reach in along their upper back jowls and you'll be surprised at what you find! Food, caught up there! And that's where several of their salivary glands are located. So with the food stuck up there, and remember Pavlov's law ? they continue to secrete, all the while causing more tartar to build up.

"Dental calculus (also called tartar) is composed of calcium salts, food particles, bacteria, and other organic material. It is yellow-brown and soft when first deposited. At the soft stage it is called plaque. The plaque quickly hardens into calculus. Calculus collects on all tooth surfaces, but is found in the greatest amounts on the cheek side of the upper premolars and molars."

So ... get checking, get on the bang wagon of brushing (at least 3-4x a week, daily would be even better), take heed from your groomer if you have good one ... and consult with your vet if action needs to be taken.

Keep your dog clean, from the outside in.


Linda February 22, 2010 at 9:24 PM  

Great advise on dogs and their dental health, how often do we really check out dogs teeth? guess everyone is checking now!

Thanks for reminding us.

Kav February 23, 2010 at 5:34 PM  

Darn. I'm soooo bad at this. Read your blog post at work and came home and checked teeth first thing. Poor boy -- that's not his usual greeting so he's confused. LOL.

The good news is -- he doesn't mind me poking around in his mouth. The bad news -- I should have done it sooner. Time to call the vet. Thanks for the reminder.

Shelamo Shelties February 27, 2010 at 6:19 PM  

thanks ladies ... am glad it helped some dogs.


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