Dental and vision health info for your four-legged friends on National Dog Day

Our dogs are a frequent topic here in the office.

We share laughs, lessons, and, of course, love for these amazing creatures. Because we adore them so much, we want our dogs to live happy and healthy lives. And we’ve come to learn that their oral health can have a lot to do with that. There are also things we can do to protect their eyes.

For National Dog Day, we’re going to celebrate our dogs by focusing on our favorite topics of dental and vision health and include our dogs!

Eye care for your dog

I had a cocker spaniel that had cataracts in her old age. Some breeds are more susceptible than others. Like humans, there are a number of causes and the condition results in diminished vision or blindness. Dogs can also get glaucoma, like humans.

My dog was also vulnerable to eye infections. It’s recommended if your dog has a lot of yucky stuff in the corner of her eyes, wipe it off. When cleaning them out, be careful to wipe away from the eye so you don’t hurt or scratch the eye. I cleaned out my dog’s eyes just about every day. It’s important to keep on top of it, especially if it’s excessive. If the crust and discharge build up, the more likely it will cause an eye infection.

Other ways to protect your dog’s eyes include keeping their hair cut around the eyes so hair doesn’t scratch or irritate them. And though it’s always fun to see a dog enjoy the open window breeze while riding in the car, it could cause problems if something blows into their eyes. For any serious eye conditions, consult your veterinarian.

Oral health problems for dogs

Like humans, dogs can have similar dental problems like gingivitis and periodontal disease. It’s imperative to keep teeth and gums strong and healthy because dental issues can lead to other health problems. Another similarity, early detection and treatment can be critical. We get our teeth checked twice a year; with your dog’s annual visit to the vet, teeth and gums will (or should) be checked. You can monitor your dog’s teeth between these visits by looking for plaque buildup and swollen gums.

How to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy

Brushing your dog’s teeth might seem impossible, but with some effort, it can pay off in the long run. Struggling with the task of keeping our dog’s teeth clean is a topic I’ve discussed with my co-workers. And I’ll admit, none of us have taken on the challenge of brushing. Some of us have adopted older dogs, so we’ve had to take our dogs to the vet for a cleaning which involves anesthesia. I recently rescued a younger dog, so it’s possible to start a routine of brushing to prevent the need for a dental procedure in the future. It might take some getting used to, for me and my dog, but with time, patience and training, it could turn into a habit. According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is the most effective way to keep them healthy and may reduce or even eliminate the need for a dental cleaning at the vet.

If you decide to take on the challenge of brushing your dog’s teeth, consult with your vet. There is special toothpaste for dogs because human toothpaste is toxic for them. There are also specially designed toothbrushes. But if you can’t manage brushing your dog’s teeth, there are other things you can do.

Chew toys – I’m lucky that my dog enjoys chewing on toys and sticks. When I see her chewing on her favorite rubber toy, I’m thankful it could be helping her teeth. Some toys are designed to strengthen gums and teeth. When a dog chews or gnaws on a toy, it can scrape off buildup on your dog’s teeth.

Dental treats – There are lots of options out there. My vet sells a great brand of dental chews. They’re similar to raw hides, but they have special ingredients that fight and breakdown the plaque on teeth. Dental treats can also help with freshening breath, but be aware, severe bad breath can be a sign of dental problems.

Tooth wipes – A great option and alternative to brushing, dog tooth wipes are used to rub against the teeth and remove plaque.

Dry food – I used to think of soft food as a special treat for dogs, but it’s not good for their teeth. Soft food can stick to their teeth, create buildup and lead to tooth decay.

Happy to celebrate

National Dog Day celebrates all dogs and encourages rescue and adoption from shelters. The day brings attention to the many roles dogs have in our lives. We’re very happy to celebrate this day and message with you all.

Always consult with your veterinarian about what is best for your dog.

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