You like little Buster kissing you on the cheek. It's sweet. It's cute. Lately, however, you've noticed little Buster’s licks aren't nearly as kissing sweet as they once were, and his gums look red and swollen. Take him to the vet to see what can be done.
On average, 68 percent of dogs over the age of 3 will develop a form of dental disease. Inflamed or infected gums are indicative. Excessive tartar buildup is a routine cause, and genetics can dictate how quickly or thickly this tarter develops. If left untreated, there are serious health risks. Gum recession, followed by tooth or bone loss will occur, and the bacteria from the tartar can seep into the blood stream, affecting the heart, liver or kidneys.
How to Help
Depending on the severity of the infection, your veterinarian may put him on a course of antibiotics to lower the bacterial count, but this is a temporary solution. A dental cleaning under anesthesia will correct the problem. If his infection is extreme, your vet may put him on a short course of antibiotics after the cleaning as well, since cleaning under the gum line can cause bacteria to spread.
Infected gums can be painful. Watch for signs of your dog having trouble chewing or showing signs of reluctance to eat. Your vet may prescribe a short course of nonsteroidal pain medication to make him more comfortable. If your dog eats dry food, your vet may also suggest a softer-textured diet until his dental cleaning has been performed. If your dog has a sensitive stomach and canned food causes him to have loose stools, talk to your vet about a home-cooked diet. Boiled chicken and rice is digestive-system friendly and frequently recommended unless your dog has a particular health concern.
An Ounce of Prevention
Although your dog may need more than one professional dental cleaning in his lifetime, you can slow the frequency. Regular brushing has proven to be extremely beneficial; your vet can show you how to begin this routine. Human toothpaste is toxic, but the pet-friendly flavors of animal toothpaste can make brushing seem like a treat. Oral gels, oral rinses, time-release adhesives and dental-health diets are available. Talk to your vet about the best option for your dog.