What Is Periodontal Disease in Dogs?

February is Pet Dental Health Month, so it’s a great time to brush up on caring for your dog’s teeth. In many ways, dog teeth are no different than human teeth. We brush our own teeth twice a day, floss and see a dentist for professional cleanings at least every six months. But the majority of pet owners don’t brush their dog’s teeth daily, as is recommended by veterinarians. So, what exactly happens to your dog’s mouth if you don’t brush his teeth? Let’s talk about periodontal disease in dogs. 

First, What is Periodontal Disease in Dogs?

A golden retriever dog outside.

Periodontal disease in dogs is caused by not taking proper care of your dog’s teeth. Photography by InBetweentheBlinks / Shutterstock.

“Periodontal disease causes infection in the mouth that can lead to tooth loss,” says Missy Tasky, DVM, owner of Gentle Touch Animal Hospital in Denver, Colorado. “It can also have a negative effect on the rest of the body: heart, kidneys and overall quality of life.”

What Causes Periodontal Disease in Dogs?

When a dog eats, small bits of food remain on the teeth. The food particles (along with yucky bacteria) collect along the gum line. Eventually, the food and bacteria form plaque — a soft, sticky film that coats the teeth. If this plaque is not brushed away, it hardens into calculus, commonly referred to as tartar. Tartar is calcified and very hard.

When tartar forms on and below the gum line, it leads to a condition called gingivitis, which causes bleeding and inflammation. Still worse is periodontitis, evidenced by bone and tissues loss, as well as infection. Once a dog reaches this stage of periodontal disease, tooth loss can occur.

Do Dogs Get Cavities?

Interestingly, dogs rarely get cavities. This is because they don’t consume a lot of sugar the way humans do. Some dogs get something called a resorptive lesion, which is similar to a cavity, but that is also somewhat rare.

What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Dogs?

Common signs of periodontal disease that you might notice at home include bad breath (no, bad breath is not normal for dogs); red, swollen or bleeding gums; drooling; pain or sensitivity in the mouth (refusing to eat or chew on toys, or making strange sounds when trying to eat). If you see any of these signs, bring your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you can to get checked out.

How is Periodontal Disease in Dogs Diagnosed?

If your vet suspects periodontal disease, he or she will do a thorough exam of the mouth and teeth, and will likely recommend dental x-rays. X-rays are important because they can reveal disease below the gum line that cannot be seen with the naked eye. After diagnosing periodontal disease, your vet will want to do a deep dental cleaning while your pet is under general anesthesia.

If you’re nervous about the anesthesia, you might be tempted to try a “non-anesthetic dental cleaning” instead — don’t. Pets with periodontal disease need deep cleaning below the gum line and might even need tooth extractions. This is something that can only be accomplished with a professional cleaning under anesthesia. The procedure is generally very safe, even for older pets. If you are concerned about the risks, talk to your vet about doing a pre-anesthetic blood screening to check to make sure your dog’s liver and kidney are functioning properly and make sure your pet gets an IV catheter and fluids during the procedure. 

How to Prevent Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Once your veterinarian cleans your dog’s teeth, it’s up to you to make sure they stay that way. Daily tooth brushing is absolutely key to preventing periodontal disease. You can brush plaque away, but tartar is too hard to brush away at home— it can only be removed with a professional cleaning. It takes about 24 hours for plaque to form, so brushing every single day is the best way to remove plaque before it has time to develop into tartar.

How Often Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth to Prevent Periodontal Disease?

With everything else you have going on in your life, brushing your dog’s teeth might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually easy and as quick as brushing or feeding your pet. To get into the habit, brush your dog’s teeth at the same time every day. Try pairing the task with something else you do every day, like brushing your own teeth (just don’t accidentally swap toothbrushes!). Never use a human toothpaste for your dog—always choose one that’s labeled for use in pets.

Other Measures to Take to Avoid Periodontal Disease in Dogs

“Make sure that your pet is seen by a veterinarian annually and preferably biannually,” Dr. Tasky advises. “At-home measures in order of most effective to least effective include brushing the teeth daily (or at least 3 times weekly) with toothpaste approved for use in animals, using a dental diet formulated to keep the teeth healthy, and using dental chews and treats. Water additives sometimes help. Dental foods and products sold at veterinary hospitals are of the highest quality.”

Even if you do all of these things, most dogs will benefit from an annual professional dental cleaning, or a cleaning every other year. Doing this will help ensure your dog remains healthy and happy, and hopefully keeps all of his teeth.

Thumbnail: Photography ©androsov58 | Thinkstock.

Tell us: Have you ever dealt with periodontal disease in dogs?

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7 Essentials For Desert Hiking With Your Dog

When Bailey and I set out on an extended road trip last year, I knew we would be spending a lot of time hiking in the desert. Coming from the Midwest, I had some concerns about the precautions…

GoPetFriendly.com is a website for people who love to travel with their pets. Whether you're going around the block or across the country, we'll help make your next trip fun for the whole family! Please continue reading this post on our blog, Take Paws.

How Cane Rosso Restaurant Is Helping Rescue Dogs

At Dogster magazine, we love when a restaurant goes to the dogs! So it’s no surprise that when we’re in Texas, our restaurant group of choice is Cane Rosso. The restaurants specialize in authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizza along with other traditional Italian dishes. What makes Cane Rosso and owner/creator Jay Jerrier (who has seven dogs of his own!) even more special is the Cane Rosso Rescue founded in 2014.

Pups on the Patio events mix pizza, pups & rescues.

Pups on the Patio events mix pizza, pups & rescues. Photography courtesy Cane Rosso.

“Cane Rosso, the name of our restaurant group, means ‘red dog’ in Italian and is named after our first dog, Zoli — also the name of one of our new restaurants,” Jay tells us. “The plight of abandoned, abused, neglected and unwanted dogs is something that has always touched me. Lily Tomlin once said, ‘I said “someone should do something about that” … then I realized that I was “someone.”‘ I’m fortunate enough to be in the position to do something about it … so I am.”

The volunteer-based 501 (c)3 nonprofit focuses on foster care, veterinary treatment and providing transportation and other essential needs for dogs who need homes. It has its own network of fosters and dogs, plus it supports other Texan rescues by holding Pups on the Patio pizza, fundraising and pet adoption events at the Cane Rosso restaurants where patrons’ donations are matched by Cane Rosso and then given to a local rescue. You can also support the rescue(s) by “rounding up for rescue” when you pay your bill. “With the number of guests that visit us across 10 restaurants, it really adds up,” Jay says. For more info, go to canerosso.com or canerossorescue.com.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you! 

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Wondering How Often to Bathe a Dog? It Depends on These Factors

There are few dog parenting topics with as many differing points of view as how often to bathe a dog. And the answer isn’t a straightforward one, either. Let’s look into some factors that play into how often to bathe a dog right here.

Here’s how often I bathe my dog

Riggns has gotten a bit slower at hiking as a senior dog.

Riggins out on a hike. Photography courtesy Wendy Newell.

I have a 12-year-old German Shorthair Pointer mix named Riggins. In his old age he has slowed down quite a bit, but when he was young he was a pistol! We had to go for an hour-long walk or run every day. Weekends were reserved for hiking and outdoor adventures. In between, there was playing and digging in the backyard and romping in mud- and pee-filled parks. He was a filthy beast. During the height of his activity I gave him a bath every Sunday. I’d throw him in the shower, and was always shocked at how much dirt went down the drain.

Of course, I was anxious. I’d heard the advice that you should only bathe a dog once a month, at the most. Unfortunately, Riggins smelled — bad — and I couldn’t live with a smelly creature snuggling up next to me in bed.

I did my homework and picked a show dog shampoo that was gentle enough that it could be used every day. Add a heavy fish protein-based food and the health of an active pup, and Riggins’ skin was always healthy with a silky black coat that glistened in the sun!

The once-a-week bathing worked for me at the time. But will it work for your dog?

First off, why should you bathe a dog?

The most important reason to bathe your dog is for his health. Without a bath, your dog’s skin could get irritated and infected and his coat could get matted and hard to manage. It’s also important that your dog gets bathed regularly to ensure that he can live healthfully alongside your family in your home (and as a cuddle buddy!).

How often to bathe a dog

A dog getting shampooed and bathed.

How often to bathe a dog depends on a few different factors. Photography ©fotoedu | Thinkstock.

How often you should wash your dog depends on his breed, coat quality, skin needs and activity level. So, how often should you bathe your dog?

  1. When he smells. It’s an easy rule of thumb. If your dog smells bad, beyond just normal dog smell, it’s time for a bath!
  2. Consult the professionals. Talk to a professional groomer. She has the knowledge and experience with different breeds and pups that she can help you understand what schedule will be best for your dog’s health.
  3. Medical reasons. If your dog has skin issues, he may be prescribed medicinal shampoo. Riggins used this for a couple of years and it was an amazing solution for his itchy skin. Follow your vet’s directions when using medical shampoo. It will usually require washing more frequently than you are used to and spending more time with a wet, soapy dog as the medicine works its magic!
  4. Pay attention to your dog’s skin. If your dog’s skin gets dry and flaky, you are most likely bathing too often and stripping out important oils from his coat.
  5. Double-coated breeds. Pups with double coats like Samoyeds, Alaskan Malamutes and Chow Chows, will most likely need less frequent bathing but more brushing to keep their coats healthy and clean.
  6. Oily-coated breeds. Basset Hounds, for example, tend to have oily coats. These pups may require bathing as frequently as once a week.
  7. Short-haired dogs and dogs with water repellant coats. Weimaraners and Dalmatians tend to need very few baths as they can regulate their natural oils without much help.

What you’ll need to wash your dog

  1. Shampoo 
    • Choose a dog shampoo that fits your dog’s coat quality and the frequency with which you need to wash him. Diluting the shampoo with water up to 1:8 will allow you to easily cover your dog in suds without over-using the product.
    • A good way to know that the products in your dog’s shampoo are gentle and safe is to make the dog shampoo yourself at home. Here are a few homemade dog shampoo recipes to try.
    • Do not use human shampoos for adults or babies on your dog. They are most likely going to be too harsh and harm your dog’s skin.
  2. Lukewarm water. You don’t like a cold shower, so why would your dog?
  3. Brush. Comb your dog pre-bath to help shed any dead hair. Comb your dog again after your dog’s coat is dry to keep your dog’s coat free of mats and to help spread out your dog’s natural oils.
  4. Dry carefully. Do not use a hairdryer on your dog. It is most likely too hot, and the harshness will dry his skin out. Pat your dog with towels and air dry, or use a dryer specifically designed for dogs.
  5. Wet alternatives. Try using dry shampoo and/or dog wipes (use wipes made specifically for dogs — not wipes made for humans or babies, as they have ingredients that may be harmful to dogs in them) to keep your dog dirt and mud free in between baths.
  6. Patience and love. Some dogs don’t like baths, like my darling Riggins. With love and patience, you can make the experience less scary and even enjoyable to them.

Tell us: What’s your take on how often to bathe a dog? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know your dog-washing tips.

Thumbnail: Photography ©Chalabala | Thinkstock. 

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7 Things For Dog Lovers to Know About The Year of The Dog

Today, Friday, February 16, marks the start of the Chinese New Year and 2018 is the year of the dog! “This year of the Brown Earth Dog is going to be a good year in all respects, but it will also be an exhausting year. You will be happy yet frustrated, rested yet tired, cheerful yet dull!” explains the Chinese Zodiac website. The site also says that the characteristic word is “action.” Other than the dull part, this sounds a lot like life with dogs! Let’s learn a bit more about the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Dog in particular.

1. First, What is the Chinese Zodiac and the Chinese New Year?

Shar Pei.

The Shar-Pei, a Chinese dog, has much to celebrate in 2018, the Year of the Dog. Photography by Waldemar Dabrowski / Shutterstock.

The Chinese animal zodiac involves 12 animals: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. These animals are arranged in a repeating cycle, every 12 years. The Chinese New Year is an important annual Chinese celebration of the lunar new year. In the lunar calendar, months are 28 days long, and years range from 353-355 days long. The Chinese New Year moves each year depending on the lunar cycle. In 2018, the Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 16.

2. Fireworks Are a Big Part of Chinese New Year Celebrations — Fun for Humans, But Not for Dogs

Lighting fireworks to keep away bad luck is a traditional way to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Many dogs fear fireworks, so it might be best to avoid bringing your pups to local Chinese New Year celebrations. If you live in a neighborhood with lots of Chinese New Year festivities, keep your dog inside, and be sure she’s wearing a collar and updated identification. If your dog has a really intense fear of fireworks, consult with your vet — one of my dogs has a special anxiety prescription to help her through holidays that involve fireworks.

3. Loyalty Is a Paramount Trait of Dogs in Chinese Culture

The loyalty of dogs is understood across many cultures, and a dog’s loyalty is central in the Chinese zodiac, too. “Dog is man’s good friend who can understand the human spirit and obey its master, whether he is wealthy or not,” Travel China Guide says. “The Chinese regard it as an auspicious animal. If a dog happens to come to a house, it symbolizes the coming of fortune. The invincible God Erlang in Chinese legend used a loyal Wolfhound to help him capture monsters.”

4. It’s Not Only the Year of the Dog — It’s Specifically the Year of the Earth Dog

2018 will be the first Year of the Earth Dog since 1958. Other kinds of dogs recognized in the Chinese zodiac include: Water Dog, Metal Dog, Fire Dog and Wood Dog.  According to Your Chinese Astrology, the Earth Dog is “broad-minded, faithful, considerate, well-disciplined and [sticking] to principles. Also, they are grateful, chivalrous, brave and have the courage to take the blame for what they do, thus it’s easy for them to offend somebody. Earth Dogs always have clear goals and they are self-poised toward success and failure, never compromising their conscience to do things.” Sounds a lot like the dogs I share my life with!

5. So, How Will the Year of the Dog Affect You?

Recent dog years include 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2006. “People born in these years are considered by some to have the “best traits of human nature,” notes Your Chinese Astrology. “They are honest, friendly, faithful, loyal, smart, straightforward, venerable and have a strong sense of responsibility. On the negative side, they are likely to be self-righteous, cold, terribly stubborn, slippery, critical of others and not good at social activities.” Find out what zodiac animal is associated with the year of your birth on chinesezodiac.org and how the year of the dog might impact you.

6. Aptly, The Year of the Dog Is Time to Train

According to The Chinese Zodiac, “2018 is the ideal time to start eating healthy, doing sports and getting rid of bad habits.” For dog parents, it sounds like a great year to focus on training your dog! Thinking about taking up a new dog sport, like musical freestyle, agility or rally? It sounds like this would be a good year for you and your pup to try new things together!

7. And, Of Course There Are Some Dog-Centric Events to Celebrate the Year of the Dog

See some dog-friendly Year of the Dog events on our Dug Up at Dogster blog.

Happy Year of the Dog!

Thumbnail: Photography ©yanjf | iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus.

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Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author. Her novels have been honored by organizations ranging from the Lambda Literary Foundation to the American Library Association. Sassafras is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor, and assists with dog agility classes. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with her partner, a senior Chihuahua mix, a rescued Shepherd mix and a Newfoundland puppy, along with two bossy cats and a semi-feral kitten. Learn more at sassafraslowrey.com


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11 Different Types of Dog Coats And Jackets

Ask any fashionista and they’ll tell you that a great coat selection is a staple of a well-rounded wardrobe. For dogs though, the jacket isn’t just an accessory… in most cases it’s the entire outfit! Dog coats come in all shapes and sizes and serve a number of different functions, depending on what your dog needs. So, whether it’s to keep warm when it’s below zero or just to impress a couple of friends at the next Yappy Hour, we compiled a list of some of the most common dog coats to keep your dog’s jacket game strong.

1. Dog Raincoat

Dog raincoat.

Fashion Pet Rainy Days Slicker Yellow Raincoat, Ethical Pet ($12.40). amazon.com

Ever tried to bring Biscuit in the shower with you? Chances are he wasn’t a fan. Well, that’s how he feels every time you take him out to tinkle in a torrential downpour. A doggie raincoat will hopefully alleviate his wet-fur syndrome.

2. Dog Cooling Coat

Cooling dog coat.

Cooling Coat, Hurtta ($36.95). amazon.com

Sometimes, rising temperatures make it dangerous for Fido to go outside. There are several different types of cooling coats perfect for defeating those dog days of summer.

3. Dog Windbreaker

Dog windbreaker.

Windbreaker 420D Deluxe Dog Coat, WeatherBeeta ($29.95). amazon.com

Dog windbreakers keep your pup warm and dry while still allowing the flexibility for full-on fun and exploration. They serve a needed function, while also adding to your pup’s fashion sense.

4. Dog Fleece

Fleece dog coat.

Stretch Fleece Pull Over Cold Weather Dog Vest, Gooby ($28.80). amazon.com

Fleece is the perfect choice for those cool fall days. With snuggly insulation and a super-soft finish, they’re the closest you’ll come to wrapping your pup in an actual cloud.

5. Dog Parka

Dog parka.

Metallic Fashion Pet Parka Coat, Pet Life ($22.97). amazon.com

When winter hits its full effect, parkas are the perfect accessory to keep your pet warm while simultaneously looking stylish. They’re also excellent if your pup knows how to snow ski.

6. Dog Snowsuit

Dog snowsuit.

Thunder-crackle Full-Body Waded-Plush Adjustable and 3M Reflective Dog Jacket, DogHelios ($54.49). amazon.com

Yes, these actually exist! Your little angel can make snow angels in these without getting frostbite.

7. Dog Insect-Protection Coat

Dog insect-protection coat.

Insect Repellent Shirt, Doggles ($34.84). amazon.com

Certain bugs carry diseases that might be harmful to your pup. These coats usually aren’t the most stylish, but they’ll protect against fleas, ticks and other insects.

8. Dog Reflective Jacket

Reflective dog jacket.

Winter Dog Jacket Gray & Yellow Weatherproof Fleece Lined Pet Coat, Midlee ($19.99). amazon.com

Got a tail-wagger that’s nocturnal? A reflective jacket is an underutilized accessory that could save your canine’s life. They increase visibility on early-morning walks or late-night play sessions.

9. Dog Faux-Fur Coat

Faux fur dog jacket.

Dog Jacket Luxury Leopard, Tzou ($9.98). amazon.com

Preferred by the poshest of puppies.

10. Dog Hoodie

Dog hoodie.

Charcoal Gray Adventure Zip Up Dog Hoodie, Ellie Dog Wear ($32.99). amazon.com

When your canine wants to keep it casual, hoodies are always an excellent option. Perfect for fall days, sporting events or just keeping low key on those bad fur days.

11. Dog Sun-Protection Coat

Dog sun-protection dog coat.

Lycra Bodysuit, K9 Top Coat (price depends on size and breed). k9topcoat.com

Did you know that certain canine breeds are very susceptible to skin cancer? Bathing them in Banana Boat isn’t going to help (never use human sunscreen on your dog!), but these UV-blocking bodysuits will not only decrease sun exposure, but they’ll make your pup look like a superhero as well.

Thumbnail: Photography ©Limourri | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

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