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Caring for Your Chihuahua’s Teeth

Caring for Your Chihuahua’s Teeth

Teeth Brushing is a Daily Job

Unlike grooming, there is no difference in oral care if you own a short or long haired Chihuahua.  Just like you, your Chi needs to have his or her teeth brushed every day.  Make it part of your routine so that it is easier to remember.  After breakfast or dinner, at bedtime, or in the morning when you brush your teeth are all popular times that owners pick to brush their pet’s teeth.  It doesn’t matter when you brush – just do it.  Chihuahua owners are often afraid of hurting their little pet and so don’t perform daily teeth brushing.

Don’t use human toothpaste or mouthwash as it can make your Chihuahua sick.  There are specially formulated dog toothpastes which contain enzymes that helps fight tartar build up.  They come in minty flavours just like your toothpaste or you can treat your Chihuahua by buying the poultry flavoured one.

When picking a toothbrush you can choose a human one suitable for a child.  Try to keep it as soft as possible so you don’t irritate your Chis gums.  If you don’t like the idea of a toothbrush buy a finger brush from your veterinarian or the pet store.  A fingerbrush is a rubber thimble that fits over your finger with small nubs that help brush the teeth.  This type of brush gives more control when brushing, and is especially helpful with little dogs like Chihuahuas where human toothbrushes are much too long.

Symptoms of Tooth Decay

There are many symptoms to watch for with your Chi but, unfortunately, many dogs display very few of them.  Bad breath is a giveaway but dogs often have breath that is a little stinky just because of the food they eat.  Reluctance to eat, pawing at the mouth, or whimpering could all be signs of tooth pain.

Many dogs, even little ones, are “gulpers”, meaning they gulp down their food rather than chewing very much.  With these types of dogs by the time they refuse to eat, the teeth are in disastrous shape.  Not eating is not a reliable sign to wait for when talking about tooth decay.  Chihuahuas are often fed specialty “little dog” foods which are soft and ease to chew and swallow.  These foods do nothing to help clean the teeth or keep them healthy.

The best way to check the health of your Chihuahua’s teeth is to look.  There is no need to open their tiny mouths to look.  Simply lift the lips with the jaw closed and look for signs of redness or inflammation of the gums or tartar build up on the teeth.

Dental Cleaning

Many businesses will offer to clean your Chi’s teeth while the dog is awake.  This type of cleaning or scaling does not allow for a thorough cleaning beneath the gum line where tarter is likely to cause gum disease and tooth decay.  Also it can be very stressful for your pet and the risk of them being poked with a pointy scraper increases if they don’t remain perfectly still.

Most veterinarians recommend a full dental cleaning done under a general anaesthetic.  This provides the opportunity for a thorough cleaning and inspection of all the teeth.  If they discover that a tooth is decaying they can extract it with no pain to your pet.  The dog is unaware of what has been happening and is therefore less stressed.

Conclusion

Prevention is the best course of action to protect your Chi’s oral health.  While daily brushing is important you could also turn to specially formulated dental diets to help clean the teeth.  The dry kibble is often large so the dog gets the benefit of scraping action when forced to chew.  Some foods come with an enzyme coating designed to help prevent tartar.  The use of dental foods in combination with daily brushing and periodic inspection is the best thing you can do for your Chi.  Think of it as a Chihuahua gift – the gift of oral health.

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