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Doggie Dental Health and Hygiene: What Pet Owners Need to Know

There are over 75 million pet dogs in the U.S. -- more than in any other country. And while most owners may know the basics of keeping their canine healthy, some owners neglect one of the most essential components of overall health -- oral health. But it should come as no surprise that doggie dental health doesn't exactly require the same practices as our oral health procedures. Here's what all dog owners should know about keeping their pet's mouths clean and healthy.

Brushing Your Dog's Teeth

If you didn't think it was necessary to brush your pup's teeth, think again. Experts say the best stage to get your dog used to having their teeth brushed is from the puppy stage. But don't even think about using a regular toothpaste and toothbrush; you'll have to visit a pet supply store to get a pup-friendly version. Your puppy may not appreciate the experience at first, but all it takes is a bit of practice with your pup to turn the routine into a positive habit.

Other Treatments

If your dog doesn't particularly like having their teeth brushed, you'll be glad to know that there are other steps you can take to keep their dental health up. Start by buying dental chews that are specially formulated to strengthen your pup's tooth enamel (but make sure they aren't loaded with chemicals and extra sugars). You can also buy certain products that are added to your dog's water to promote dental health and hygiene. Typically, a combination of these measures provides the best overall treatment regimen, but don't hesitate to talk to your dog's vet about certain procedures that may be necessary in certain cases.

Risks of Dental Decay

It's generally quite easy to keep up with your dog's dental health -- after all, it's a major part of being a responsible pet owner. That being said, you should understand the risks that come with letting your dog's oral hygiene fall by the wayside; the risks are much worse than dog breath. Approximately 250,000 pediatric dental sedations performed each year, but sedations are also sometimes necessary in the case of certain canine dental surgeries.

"Poor care of dogs' dental hygiene can result in complications such as dental plaque, gum disease, tooth abscesses, and difficulty eating. Bacteria can spread from the teeth and gums causing damage to the kidneys, liver and the heart. Painful and extensive dental surgery and treatment may be needed to cure this," London veterinary surgeon Rodney Zasman told Mirror. "It is vital to increase owners' knowledge of the importance of looking after their dog's teeth and gums to ensure pets are as healthy and fit as possible."

Ultimately, looking after your dog's dental health is as easy as keeping these tips in mind. Again, it's always best to seek professional and personalized advice for your pup from an animal doctor.

Head of Content, reality TV watcher and lover of cookies. emma@shared.com