HEALTH AND WELLNESS
It's never too late to paws and breathe.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
ORAL hygiene in dogs should be taken seriously as tooth problems in canine could lead to other health issues, said Earl Elvis Rabara, a veterinarian with the local brand food manufacturer Good Boy.
Speaking before a group of dog owners at the recent Cat & Dog Expo organized by Pet Express, Rabara said the plaque that formed in dogs' teeth can lead to tartar which invades gums. Infected gums, he said, leads to gingivitis and periodental diseases that can affect internal organs such as the heart, lungs and kidney.
“Cats and dogs don't really develop tooth decay unless the teeth are stressed or they've been damaged to the point that the pulp has been exposed,” he said.
But an unhealthy oral cavity can cause inflammation of heart and other types of heart conditions, warned Rabara.
He urged dog owners to start brushing their puppies' teeth to get them used to it at an early age. He even recommended the application of some peanut butter on the toothbrush so dogs would associate brushing with their favorite treat.
There are specially-formulated toothpaste for dogs, but there are also alternative products that dog owners can use to brush or clean their dog's teeth.
Rabara said Bactidol, baking soda and, to some extent, ordinary toothpaste can be used to clean a dog's teeth.
Soak a piece of cotton in Bactidol then squeeze out the excess solution. Rub the cotton around the dog's teeth, gums and tongue.
“Bactidol is safe for dogs. In fact a derivative of hexeditine is being used in some dog food formulation,” the veterinarian said. “But I don't advise using Listerine on dogs.”
He also don't recommend using ordinary human toothpaste to brush dog's teeth. While it can help clean, human toothpaste is rich in fluoride and too much of it may even lead to cancer as dogs cannot eliminate fluoride from their system, said Rabara.
Baking soda, he said, is a better alternative to fluoride toothpaste. Dog owners can use small quantity of baking soda to gently clean the dog's teeth and mouth.
“But dogs should not ingest baking soda, so with its head facing down, take a water hose to wash off the baking soda from the dog's mouth after application,” added Rabara.
Brushing or cleaning of dog's teeth should be ideally done at night after the dog has eaten its dinner and will no longer eat anything after that. Rabara emphasized that the dog's tongue should be routinely scraped gently to remove dirt.
Rabara used his session to also relaunch the Good Boy (Lamb & Beef) dry food for dogs. He said Good Boy helps keep dogs' teeth healthy with its microfiber components, especially suitable for small breeds with dense teeth that can easily develop plaque.
* Veterinarians concerned about rising pet obesity cases