While the majority of dog owners recognise oral hygiene is important to their dog’s health, more than half have never cleaned their pooch’s teeth, research has found.
In a survey of 2,000 UK dog owners, 53% admitted they had never attempted to clean their canine’s canines, despite 88% saying they understood the importance of the activity.
It was also found most owners associated bad breath, tooth loss and inflamed gums (76%, 67% and 65%, respectively) with poor oral hygiene, yet many were unaware it could lead to more serious consequences, with 11% identifying heart disease as a potential cost and 7% understanding the liver can be affected.
According to pet supplement specialist Pettura, which carried out the survey, gum disease is five times more common in dogs than humans, as dogs have a more alkaline mouth, promoting plaque formation.
Meanwhile, studies have shown 80% of dogs suffer some form of gum disease before they are three years old.
Vet Marc Abraham said poor oral hygiene could often lead to expensive veterinary treatment for owners if gum disease was left untreated, or even lead to irreversible damage.
He said: “If dogs’ teeth are not cleaned regularly and plaque build-up not removed, this can lead to periodontitis, which is usually irreversible; characterised by loss of attachment for the tooth in its socket, which, in turn, often leads to tooth mobility, loss of tooth, as well as severe infections.”
Prevention versus procedure
Mr Abraham continued: “Due to the ample blood supply in dogs’ gums, bacteria can potentially enter their bloodstream every time they chew, causing infections much further afield in the heart, lungs and kidneys.
“While dental procedures can be performed if necessary, it’s always best to prevent gum disease in the first place.”