By Chris Pitts, RVT, Broadway Animal Hospital
Think your dog may be a good candidate for the Valentine's Day kissing booth? Let's take a quick look at what goes on inside your dog's mouth before you sign him up.
Let's start with your dog's forty-two teeth. If you brush them daily with a dog-specific enzymatic toothpaste, and have a yearly dental cleaning performed, then the chances that your dog has sweet smelling breath and a low bacteria load in his mouth are much improved. But consider that the typical dog owner does not brush their dog's teeth at all. How would your oral hygiene be if you never brushed your teeth? Yucko! Totally not kissing booth material. And you know that dog breath smell? That, friends, is bacteria. Bacteria goes from plaque to tartar in no time flat. Gross. Guess what loves to make infections in the roots of your dog's teeth. Bacteria. Grosser. If your dog has red, inflamed gums and heavy tartar, he has rotten, oozing teeth. Grossest.
This is particularly true for the twenty pound and under crowd. Smaller dogs have shallower tooth roots, so it is easier for the bacteria to migrate under the gum-line and cause abscessed teeth. As a result littler dogs tend to lose more teeth than their larger counterparts.
In addition, if you really want to get your dog ready for the most amorous day of the year, let's talk about his heart for a minute. All that bacteria in his mouth can travel through his bloodstream and set up shop in his heart of all places. Seriously. Although they may seem geographically distant, if you are worried about your dog's heart health, keeping a clean mouth is an important step.
Dogs are supposed to get those yearly cleanings for the same reason we are; to prevent the build up of plaque and tartar. If we are supposed to have it done twice a year, and we brush twice a day, why would it be any less important for your dog who chews his own hiney and thinks cat poop (read that as bacteria bombs) is caviar.
The good news is that if you brush your dog's teeth, you can really cut down on his need to have teeth extracted, which will save you money. And, if you have his teeth cleaned regularly, it will cut down on the likelihood that the cleaning will turn into a full fledged oral surgery, and, therefore the procedure will be less expensive for you and a quicker recovery for your dog. Furthermore, many veterinary hospitals offer specials in the month of February to encourage pet owners to do just that: maintain their dog's teeth. Your veterinarian really wants you to maintain your pet's teeth not only for your pet's health, but when they say that, ' It's like pulling teeth', it's really true. It is a pain in the neck. So do yourself and your dog a favor, make oral hygiene a priority so you can have sweet, healthy kisses, and he can man that kissing booth this February the 14th with confidence.