smiling golden retriever

Even though I’m a dog, my teeth are important to me as humans’ are to them. However, dental care for pooches is one of the most overlooked areas of health care. Four out of five canines over three years old have gum disease because our owners don’t realize that our teeth need proper care, the same as theirs.

Brushing our teeth regularly, an annual oral examination and sometimes even a professional cleaning are vital to our health. Dental disease can lead to heart, lung and kidney disease. Small dogs like me are more prone to periodontal disease than big dogs. Tooth decay and gum disease led to me having some of my teeth pulled and some of my teeth fell out because so much tartar, a contributor to gum disease, was wedged under my gums. I can still eat dry dog food with the few teeth I have left but I wish my owner had brushed my teeth as much as she brushed hers. Maybe that’s asking a lot but a few times a week could have prevented this.

I actually like having my teeth brushed with the special doggie toothbrush and toothpaste, which has a turkey flavor. Most pooches are like me and will let you brush their teeth. But if they don’t, as an alternative, give your furry friends hard dog biscuits, chews or an occasional raw marrow bone to help reduce the buildup of tartar. Avoid prepackaged bones, which often contain preservatives and several unpronounceable materials that may harm us.

Oftentimes, veterinarians will recommend professional cleaning as early as one year old for small dogs and two years for large dogs. I’ve had my teeth cleaned several times and each time I have anesthesia administered. But before I do, the vet always examines me thoroughly to make sure I’m healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.

Life would be so easier if someone just brushed my teeth.