A mighty mouthful of shiny white teeth is the ideal in any dog. These are, after all natural predators, and we even take the name of our own frontal fangs – the canines – from the scientific name for the dog family. It might, then, be easy to imagine that dogs’ teeth look after themselves, but unfortunately this isn’t the case, and dental disease is very common, especially in older dogs. In fact, over three-quarters of dogs over the age of three show signs of periodontal disease, a chronic infection of the gums which affects the teeth, and may even cause their loss.
Prevention, as always, is the best cure, and the best prevention for this and other dental problems is regular cleaning. It’s a good idea to train a dog to accept regular tooth brushing, which will be a major help in keeping its mouth healthy. The training is best done while the dog is still a puppy, but you can often train an older dog to accept – and even enjoy – having its teeth brushed. Fortunately there are also lots of toys, treats and foods specially designed to keep teeth clean, even if your dog won’t accept a toothbrush. It’s always worth asking a vet for advice on the best approach.