by Tara M. Clapper, Contributing Writer
Chihuahuas and other small breeds are especially prone to dental problems. While dogs have heartier teeth than humans, they're still afflicted by dental problems such as gingivitis and plaque. Diet and prevention can help your dog maintain healthy dental hygiene without costly trips to the vet.
Chihuahua dental problems do increase your pet health care costs. Additionally, they can create discomfort for your dog. Here are some ways to recognize, prevent and treat dental decay in Chihuahuas.
Chihuahuas are small, but they have needle-like teeth that hurt when they bite. You can prevent bites and frustration by helping your dog get used to the ritual of tooth-brushing. Begin by petting your dog and touching her mouth. Eventually, touch your Chihuahua's mouth and teeth.
Before you attempt to brush your Chihuahua's teeth, let her smell, inspect and lick the toothbrush and toothpaste. Remember, your dog's primary sense is his sense of smell; he'll be more comfortable with the objects after a proper introduction.
This practice can also deter food aggression and will help you safely retrieve any forbidden or harmful objects from your dog's mouth.
Good Dog, Bad Breath
If your Chihuahua has bad breath, it means she's past due for a brushing. As in humans, lingering bacteria in the mouth causes a nasty, unpleasant odor. While 'dog breath' is normal, particularly odorous breath is indicative of potential decay.
Your dog's family, friends and veterinarian will also appreciate the lack of odor after brushing has occurred.
It's true that wet food and table scraps can increase bad breath and lead to poor dental health in dogs. Consult your veterinarian concerning your Chihuahua's diet.
Ultimately, senior Chihuahuas may need to eat wet food because of the fragility of their teeth. More wet food and table scraps means more brushing for your dog. Wet food and table scraps can also lead to obesity in Chihuahuas.
Many pet owners dread brushing their animals' teeth, but over time it becomes a manageable process. A finger brush (available from your vet or most pet stores) is most effective--especially on a Chihuahua since her mouth is small. Don't forget to use toothpaste for dogs as well.
As you brush your Chihuahua's teeth, provide treats and positive reinforcement, rewarding the dog for allowing you to brush his teeth.
Major dental infections can lead to serious health problems in pets and people. If you notice an abscess or if your Chihuahua experiences pain, it's time for a trip to the vet
This post was originally published on Examiner.com as Chihuahua Examiner. Republished with permission of the author.
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