QUESTION: How Can I Keep my Bolognese Teeth Clean?
ANSWER: Small breeds tend to be prone to gum disease and a build-up of TARTAR on their teeth and the Bolognese is no exception. New puppy owners should take mouth care seriously right from the start. When the baby teeth fall away and the adult teeth come through a puppy’s mouth will be sensitive. However, once the adult teeth have erupted, regular mouth care is a priority. Gum disease can advance quickly causing pain, eroding gums, missing teeth and even bone loss. 80% of dogs suffer from gum disease before they are 3-years old. So it’s not just bad breath you have to consider!
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is also called Periodontal Disease. Every time your dog eats, bacteria mixes with food and saliva to form a sticky film called PLAQUE over the mouth and the teeth. Dogs have a more alkaline mouth compared to us which promotes PLAQUE formation. So, actually it is even more important to brush our dog’s teeth than it is our own!
If the sticky PLAQUE is allowed to stay on the teeth the bacteria it contains will multiply. The dog’s immune system reacts to the PLAQUE bacteria and this then causes inflammation of the gums known as gingivitis. PLAQUE over time hardens to form TARTAR which is the yellowish brown hard substance that you may see on your dog’s teeth. TARTAR makes the ideal surface for more PLAQUE to stick speeding up the whole process.
The initial redness in the gums called Gingivitis is reversible, but if allowed to continue the redness can develop into a more serious condition called Periodontitis which is irreversible. Periodontitis causes a loss of attachment for the tooth in the socket, loss of teeth and severe infections.
It is vital that you check your dog’s mouth regularly as dogs are very good at covering up dental disease. Ideally brush your dog’s teeth daily. Owners tend to think this is difficult, but in most cases dogs enjoy the extra attention. Even an older dog will get used to having its teeth brushed. Dental work is not covered on normal pet insurance policies and it costs several hundred pounds for an anaesthetic, teeth scale and polish (even more for extractions). This expense can be reduced or even avoided with correct mouth care. Remember, every dog should receive a thorough oral exam by your vet at least annually, if not more regularly and professional cleaning should be carried out if necessary.
Food for Thought?
It may be that a dry food diet could be better than a soft diet for keeping PLAQUE down, but this is only one train of thought. Teeth cleaning will really help. There are Dental Diets available which claim increased total fibre levels and unique alignment of fibres so that the tooth surface is wiped clean when your dog chews. Larger kibbles which engulf the tooth before splitting is designed to allow the fibres to clean the tooth surface. So, it’s worth thinking about your dog’s diet when it comes to oral health as you have options.
Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth
With an older dog, firstly you will need to seek veterinary advice as a clean and polish may be initially required to remove any existing build up of PLAQUE. If you start early your puppy’s mouth will be clear and you should be able to keep it that way. With a gentle hand, patience and persistence, most pet owners can teach their dog to submit to daily tooth brushing.
One of the secrets to successful tooth brushing is to progress slowly and gently. Start with your finger rather than a toothbrush and get your dog familiar with having your finger in his mouth. Gently rub the top front teeth and all the way to the back teeth. Then do the same on the lower teeth. Praise your pet often and keep these sessions short. Once your dog is accepting of the presence of your finger, wrap a very thin damp cloth or piece of gauze around your finger and rub the teeth.
The next step is to use a cleaning product designed for dogs and apply a small amount to the gauze before you rub your pet’s teeth. Once your dog gets used to this, you can progress to either a finger brush or a soft toothbrush the right size for your dog’s mouth.
What Else Could Help?
You could also use Dental Sticks and Dental Toys to help remove PLAQUE and massage the gums. There are also supplements that claim to get into the bloodstream and help remove PLAQUE and TARTAR.
Interestingly, we have recently heard of an ultrasound descaling product for dogs called an Emmi-Pet. This product uses ultrasound technology to clean dog’s teeth without noise or motion. The ultrasound brush also stimulates the blood circulation of the gum tissue and penetrates deep into the gums and gum pockets, cleaning them thoroughly. Using pure ultrasound you can clean painlessly, smoothly and thoroughly without brushing. The Emmi-pet is quite expensive, but could be useful, especially if you have more than one dog.
We hope that we have helped explain the importance of good mouth care for your Bolognese and given you the incentive to take control, help to keep your dog healthy and happy and to reduce unexpected bills from the vet!
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