It is very important to start your dog dental care as early as possible to avoid later complications such as gum disease. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 80% of adult dogs develop gum disease by the time they’re 3 years old.
That is outrageous and unnecessary. If you brush your Chihuahua’s teeth three or four times a week, you can keep plaque under control.
If you can, start when your Chi is a puppy so he can become accustomed to having his teeth brushed. For puppies and older Chihuahuas, follow these steps to start down the road to a healthy mouth:
- Begin by letting him get used to you lifting up his lips and gently touching his teeth and gums with your finger. The more matter-of-fact you are about it, the sooner he’ll learn to live with it.
- When he stops pulling away from your finger, introduce him to a soft toothbrush; either the smallest one made for dogs or one made for human babies. At first, just touch his teeth with it, but gradually apply a little more pressure.
- When he tolerates that, move the brush so it touches his back teeth and gradually add pressure.
- Finally, use a gentle up-and-down brushing motion all around his mouth. It won’t be long before you can clean all of his teeth with relative ease.
You can find at pet supply stores or online stores like Amazon toothpaste and toothbrushes for dogs in a variety of flavors; you may even find one that makes your puppy look forward to his brushings. But don’t count on it! If he hates all the varieties you try, using plain warm water is better than no brushing at all.
Never use a toothpaste meant for people on your Chihuahua. Adult toothpaste is bad for dogs and probably upsets their stomachs. At least once a year, ask your vet to check your Chihuahua for plaque or early signs of gum disease. A professional cleaning may be necessary if his teeth have been neglected for years.
Removing retained puppy teeth
Dogs, just like people, have two sets of teeth during their lifetimes. The puppy teeth should all be gone by the time your Chi is 6 or 7 months old, replaced by permanent teeth. But that isn’t always what happens. Toy dogs often have a problem with deciduous teeth refusing to fall out to make room for the emerging permanent teeth. This creates havoc in a dog’s mouth.
When permanent teeth can’t slip into their slots because baby teeth are blocking them, they grow in whatever direction they can. The result is a mouthful of crowded teeth pointing every which way.
Now that you’re aware of the possibility, don’t let it happen to your dog. Just by looking into his mouth, you can tell if a new tooth is trying to emerge before a baby tooth falls out. Take him to your veterinarian so she can remove the retained baby tooth so that the permanent one can come in strong and straight.
The symptoms of gum disease
If your Chihuahua was an adult when you got him, he may already have gum disease. The symptoms of gum disease are:
- Bad breath
- Swollen, bright red, or bleeding gums
- Tartar against the gum line
- Loose or infected teeth
Sometimes dogs that appear to be finicky eaters actually are hungry, but they have such sore mouths that they chew only enough to survive. If your pup has any symptoms of gum disease, see your veterinarian right away.
Most adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth, but Toy dogs, with their tiny mouths, often have fewer than that.
If you have any good tips to share with us regarding dog dental care, feel free to post your ideas below.