Skip a visit to your dentist if you must, but not your Yorkie's -- you can do your own dental maintenance, but dogs don't have opposable thumbs. An estimated 80 percent of pet dogs have significant tooth-related problems. Don't let your little guy become one of them.
Cows' and horses' teeth have historically received more care than dogs' because the effects of bad teeth are more readily apparent in a large animal. But small-animal dentistry has been a specialty since the formation of the American Veterinary Dental Society in 1976, and it's growing fast. Routine dental services available to humans, such as X-rays, scaling, root canals and crowns, are used on dogs and cats, and even at the zoo for lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
Phew ... Dog Breath!
No meat-eater's breath is going to remind a human of flowers in May, but if your Yorkie's really reeks, take a good look into his mouth and then have his vet do the same. Small and toy dogs like the Yorkie are particularly prone to tooth troubles from the day they're born. Can you imagine trying to cram 42 or more teeth into jaws that have trouble encompassing your little finger? Teeth that crowded, or even overlapping, trap food particles and accumulate plaque and tartar quickly, leading to periodontal disease and all sorts of other horrors.
Yorkies have a special dental problem in that their adult teeth are often not big enough to push their puppy teeth out of the way as they sprout, so the dog ends up with two teeth where there should be only one. These leftover baby teeth need to be extracted, and since he should have his adult teeth by the time he becomes sexually mature -- about 6 to 8 months old, as small breeds mature earlier than large ones -- if you plan to neuter, the two procedures can be done at the same time.
The Professional Touch
Yorkies may need their teeth seen to professionally more than once a year. If yours already has issues, it may take several procedures, from simple cleaning and scaling to extractions under anesthesia, to get things under control.
Once good oral hygiene is established, it's up to you to maintain it. Feed him crunchy kibble and biscuits if he can handle them, as this can scrape some plaque off his teeth. Give him chew toys to do the same thing, but wash and sanitize them often. Brushing your Yorkie's teeth is not going to be a picnic in the park, but be gentle and persistent and he'll get used to having his mouth invaded. You can go basic with a piece of surgical gauze wrapped around your finger and scrubbed lightly over the outer side of his teeth and gums, or you can try special dog toothbrushes and even dog toothpaste. Don't use people toothpaste on him -- it foams too much and is not meant to be swallowed, and he can't spit. The important thing is to clean his teeth as well as you can as often as you can without ill will or blood drawn on either side.
- yorkshire image by jonnysek from Fotolia.com