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  • Writer's pictureRobin Pitoscia

Ditching Doggy Breath: Dental Hygiene Tips

February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

Dental care for dogs is often an overlooked aspect of their overall health and well-being. Many dog owners may not realize the importance of maintaining their furry friend's oral hygiene, but neglecting their dental care can lead to serious health issues down the line.

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from a variety of dental problems, including gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. These issues can not only be painful for your dog, but they can also impact their overall health. Poor dental hygiene in dogs has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and other serious health conditions.

Regular dental care is essential for keeping your dog's teeth and gums healthy. This includes brushing their teeth regularly, providing them with dental chews or toys to help clean their teeth, and taking them for regular dental check-ups with their veterinarian. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends having your dog's teeth checked at least once a year by a veterinarian. Most vets will include this in a normal physical exam. In some cases, your vet may recommend professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar buildup that can't be removed with regular brushing, or your pup may need teeth extracted if they are damaged and pose a threat to their health and happiness. If your dog has broken, loose, or lost teeth, retained baby teeth, bleeding, swelling, discomfort, or foul breath it is always best to speak with a veterinarian.

In addition to maintaining your dog's dental health, good oral hygiene can also improve their overall quality of life. Dogs with healthy teeth and gums are more likely to have fresh breath (yay! More kisses!), be able to eat and chew their food comfortably, and have a lower risk of developing painful dental issues.

Many pet groomers offer tooth brushing as a service, however it is important to remember that regular dental hygiene needs to be practiced at home. Since most dogs visit their groomer only every few weeks or months, the brushing the groomer does will not make a significant difference to your pup's health by itself. A professional groomer will discuss your dog's dental hygiene with you and can recommend products or services that may be of benefit. It should be noted that dogs with advanced dental decay, gum disease, or soreness should have their dental health addressed by a veterinarian. Brushing the teeth of dogs in those conditions could make matters worse and potentially be very painful for the dog.

As a responsible dog owner, it's important to prioritize your dog's dental care. By making sure they receive regular dental check-ups and cleanings, as well as practicing good oral hygiene at home, you can help keep your furry friend happy and healthy for years to come. Remember, a healthy smile is a happy smile!

Robin Pitoscia is the owner of Diva Dog Grooming LLC, located in Duluth, MN. She has been a professional dog groomer for over 15 years, working in a number of grooming salons across the Midwest. In addition to grooming dogs, she also breeds and exhibits Chinese Cresteds in a variety of AKC dog shows and sports. She is a strong advocate for building respectful relationships between humans and dogs through positive reinforcement and an understanding of canine cognition and behavior.

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