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Dental Health for your Chihuahua

Dental health is so important for our precious pups – just like it is for humans.  We’ve missed Dog Dental Health Month for this year – it was in February.  However, it is important to practice good dental health routines all year long.  Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the serious ramifications there can be to ignoring your pet’s dental health.  Some signs of poor dental health include the following:

  • If your pet is experiencing pain around their mouth
  • If you’ve noticed a reduction in their appetite, or if they stop eating
  • Discoloration of their teeth or when tartar is present
  • Bad breath!
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • If you notice that they’re having trouble chewing, or dropping food on the floor
  • Excessive drooling (this is normal for some breeds)

If your pup is experiencing any of these symptoms, get him or her to the vet and have it checked out.

There are several steps that you can take as a pet parent to prevent problems with their teeth.  Daily brushing is one.  Of course, this is not an easy task – especially at first.  Your pups aren’t going to like you messing with their mouth.  Start slow and get them used to it.  Ideally, you would start when you first get your dog, especially with puppies.  Then they learn that the procedure doesn’t hurt them and they’ll get used to it.  But not to worry – old dogs CAN learn new tricks, you just have to go slowly.  Show them a lot of love and give them some treats when they are good – that will help the process.  If they are struggling at first, just be patient.  Skip a day, try every other day at first.  Maybe start with one side of the mouth one day and do the other side the next day – it can be a work in progress.

There are dog treats for dental health that will help scrape the tartar off their teeth, as well as chew toys.  The best chew toys are rubber or nylon, those kinds with a bumpy or rough surface.  Make sure they’re the right size for your pup, so it doesn’t present a choking hazard.  Crunch, dry dog food will also help scrape tartar off their teeth.  With dental chews and any other type of teeth-cleaning product, make sure you look for the VOHC-approved stamp.  This stands for the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

When you decide to give brushing a try, be prepared – buy your pup his or her own toothbrush.  You can use a human toothbrush, the best one to choose would be a “soft” one that is a size that fits their mouth.  However, I prefer an actual canine toothbrush.  These also come in a “fingertip” style, which fits over the end of your finger and might make it easier to do the brushing.  Regarding toothpaste – dogs need a toothpaste that is safe to swallow – do NOT use human toothpaste.  Canine toothpastes are made in flavors that are appealing to your pups.  There are also wipes you can use if you don’t have time or have a brush handy.  This at least will help to wipe away bacteria and leftover bits of food.  Ideally, you should wipe or brush your pup’s teeth after every meal.

Just like with humans, plaque can build up on your pet’s teeth.  And, just like with humans, this can lead to periodontal disease – which can introduce infection that can travel in the bloodstream, and in time will affect their other organs.  Serious health problems can be experienced if you don’t take care of their teeth.  Some of these include heart problems, liver problems, sepsis – when mouth bacteria gets into the blood stream, it can cause a sepsis.  This is an infection that can go everywhere the blood goes.  Needless to say, any of these health problems can be extremely serious and perhaps even fatal.

So it’s very important to take care of your pup’s teeth.  Not an easy task, to be sure, but of course you want to take the very best care of them that you can.

Love your pups!

Jules

PS:  Try this great deal from PetSmart!

 

 

 

 

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Julie Harris

2 Comments

  1. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for this great article. I have 2 dogs of my own, a Cavalier and a Mini Foxy X Jack Russell. The latter just had to have a tooth removed. She’s 10 and the vet did say that aside from that tooth, she is the healthiest 10 year old dog he had ever seen. We try to give them a beef bone to help keep their teeth clean, but the tooth brush idea I guess really wouldn’t be that hard, especially if it is a nice flavour. I wonder, do they make electric tooth brushes for dogs. Obviously they would have to be less powerful than a human one, but seeing the difference one of these made to my teeth, it would be great if they were available for dogs also.

    I agree dental health is extremely important. It is the gateway to the body on a lot of fronts, so it needs to be taken seriously.

    Thanks again,
    Adam.

    • Hi Adam –
      Thanks for your comment. I have had Chihuahuas my whole life and until recently didn’t realize the serious health problems that can occur from having dental problems. My oldest girl, Katy, had about eight teeth removed a couple of years ago. After doing a lot of research, I purchased some dental wipes to get started on a dental health routine. So far, my four-legged kids have handled it pretty well. I plan on moving to a toothbrush when they get more accustomed to having me handle their mouths. An electric toothbrush sounds like a great idea! I’ll research that!

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