Dental Care For Your Shih Tzu
Good dental health is vital to your dog’s overall health. Poor dental hygiene cannot only affect your
dog’s teeth and mouth, but it can also extend to your dog’s vital organs. The American Veterinary
Dental Society reports that 80 percent of dogs show signs of oral disease by age three. Dental
disease affects the whole body, too. Bacteria from these inflamed oral areas can enter the
bloodstream and affect major body organs. The liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs are most commonly
affected. Antibiotics are used prior to and after a dental cleaning to prevent bacterial spread through
the blood stream. There is a difference between plaque and tarter. Plaque is bacteria mixed with
saliva and blood cells that leads to tooth and gum disease. Tarter, on the other hand, tarter occurs
when plaque hardens and firmly sticks to the tooth, eventually wearing down the tissue around the
health. One of the best things you can do for your dog is to brush your dog’s teeth. Years
ago, it w believed that the main way to keep your dog’s teeth clean and sparkling was to feed a
good kibble, supplement with dog biscuits and provide rawhide bones. We now know that this is
not enough –good care can prevent tooth decay and bacterial infections from entering the
bloodstream and causing great pain for your dog. The more often you brush your dog’s teeth,
the better, but you should brush at least once per day, and if that is not possible, that as
frequently as you can.
How to Brush a Dog’s Teeth
Do not use human toothpaste as it is likely to make your dog sick.
Avoid human toothpaste because it has Xylitol, a sweetening
agent that is toxic to dogs. Human pastes also have a foaming
agent that is not necessary for our dogs.
important to use toothpaste designed for dogs. The canine
toothpaste is usually acceptable to dogs because it comes in
flavors that dogs prefer such as beef, chicken, liver and even mint.
If you prefer, you can use baking soda, but dogs may not take to it as easily as commercially
prepared canine toothpaste.
You can brush your dog’s teeth with a variety of different things. A regular dog toothbrush can
be used or a rubber finger brush that fits over your index finger and has soft knobs that break
apart tarter as you rub your finger around the dog’s mouth. A dog toothbrush is smaller than a
human has and has softer bristles. You can also use a piece of gauze that you wrap around
Another product that I use regularly on my dogs is
PetzLife Oral Care Spray. It is great for freshening
breath, removing plaque and tarter and controlling
bacteria. The best part of this product is the fresh
8in1 D.D.S. Dental Wipes, 90-Count. They work well in one of my dogs who absolutely hates
anything in his mouth and will fight me tooth and nail. This product must have a pleasant taste
and the cost is minimal.
with 28 deciduous (baby) teeth. By six months of age, these baby teeth fall out and 42
permanent teeth erupt. You are not likely to see the baby teeth fall out, but you can watch the
permanent teeth erupt if you are brushing and checking frequently. Start out with very short,
positive session as soon as you obtain your dog. Puppies are squirmy and are likely to resist
your efforts, so the first couple of sessions might consist of an introduction to the toothpaste and
toothbrush. The puppy’s first reaction to tooth brushing is most likely going to be a propensity to
chew on the brush. As the puppy gets more accustomed to seeing the brush and paste, gently
begin to go over his teeth, as you would your own, in a circular manner from the gums to the
ends of the teeth. It is usually easier to work on the side of the teeth closest to the gums and
that is where most of the tarter accumulates. Do not worry too much if you cannot get to the
other side of the tooth. If you do this on a regular basis, your dog will begin to tolerate it better
and you can take the time to inspect the mouth for other potential problems.
Some owners opt to scrap or scale their dog’s teeth themselves. If the dog is cooperative, this is
a sure way to prevent disease and keep their pearly whites in great shape. You can use a
human plaque scraper that is available in any store with a dental health section or you can
purchase one designed for dogs. If you decide to do this yourself, have gauze or paper towels
handy. As you scrape the tooth, catch any loose flakes of tarter from the scraper and the dog’s
mouth. Do not allow your dog to swallow any loose tarter.
Signs of Dental Disease in Dogs
The following are signs that your dog may have a problem in his mouth or gastrointestinal
system. If you notice any of these, consult your veterinarian.
• Bad breath
• Excessive drooling
• Inflamed gums
• Tumors in the gums
• Cysts under the tongue
• Loose teeth
Professional Dental Health for Dogs
If you notice any of these, it is very important to call and schedule a consultation with your
veterinarian. If your dog has tarter on his teeth and showing signs of disease, he may need a
professional cleaning in the veterinarian’s office. Cleaning at a clinic is similar to that which we
receive when we visit a dental hygienist to have our teeth cleaned with one major exception.
Dogs cannot talk and tell the veterinarian where it hurts, and they cannot sit in a chair willingly
with their mouth open, canine patients must be anesthetized for the veterinarian to get a good
look and do a proper job. Dental X-rays may be done and scaling and polishing are done while
the dog is monitored under anesthesia.
Daily brushing is the best thing that you can do to increase your dog’s dental health. In addition,
you can still offer other things to your dog to assist you in the process. To help control your
dog’s bad breath, you can also offer them chew toys that massage their teeth and gums
removing sticky tartar and plaque. Many dental toys are made of natural rope fibers that act as
floss, while other enticing dental toys offer a variety of interesting textures, with ridges and
grooves for the dogs to work on while his teeth are maintaining their natural white glow. Chew
bones especially designed edible dental chews also reduces tarter and helps freshen breath.
They generally come with no preservatives and are gluten-free to help with digestion. Finally,
you can check with your veterinarian for food recommendations that assist with tarter control.
While dental care is not likely to be on your bucket list of fun activities with dogs, your diligence
will pay off and potentially lengthen the lifespan of your dog, prevent unnecessary visits to the
veterinarian, and help your dog live a long happy life.
nubs on these toys help clean teeth and massage gums. Nylabones are excellent for dogs that
love to chew (which is very characteristic of Shih Tzu) and you can buy 'stronger' versions for
strong chewers and smaller versions for young puppies. They also have some flavoring
associated with them that make my dogs fight over them.
My dogs eagerly wait for their dental treats each day. I give my dogs Greenies treats. This is a
real bargain because the price at local pet stores is about 3 times higher. They do help with
their breath, teeth cleaning and training and come in a variety of sizes. Be sure to choose the
correct size for your dog. If you have more than one dog, as we do, I usually recommend getting
different sizes. My bulldog loves the tiny bones, but she chokes on them.
|How to Care For Your Dog's Teeth
Brush Your Dog's Teeth
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