Does your dog have bad breath? Do her teeth look dirty or her gums look swollen?
Well, if the answers to these questions are “yes”, it’s time to pay attention to your pet’s dental health.
According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs. By three years of age, most dogs have some evidence of periodontal disease.
Other than bad breath and swollen gums, signs of dental disease in dogs include yellow-brown tartar, bleeding gums, difficulty chewing, dropping food when trying to eat, excessive drooling, a sudden change in eating habits, and pawing at the mouth or rubbing the face against the floor or furniture.
As your furry friend can’t tell you when he has a toothache or dental problems, it’s essential that you take steps to keep his teeth clean. At the same time, keeping a watchful eye on your pet’s teeth will help you catch problems early. Early diagnosis means better treatment.
Always remember that untreated dental issues in dogs can cause tooth loss, and it can ultimately lead to painful abscesses and systemic infections throughout your dog’s entire body.
Here are the some useful tips for taking care of your dog’s teeth.
1. Brush Regularly
To begin a good oral care routine for your dog, take time to brush your pet’s teeth 2 or 3 times a week. Just like humans, dogs need proper brushing to keep their teeth clean.
Brushing your pet’s teeth once a week is not enough, as the bacteria that cause dental disease can damage the surface of the teeth in 24 to 36 hours.
First of all, you need a soft-bristled toothbrush specifically designed for pets and toothpaste specifically formulated for pets. Then, follow these steps:
- Place a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.
- Hold it at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface with the bristles pointing toward the gums.
- Brush the teeth using circular motions, concentrating on the gum line, the outside surfaces of the teeth as well as the back of the teeth.
When brushing your pet’s teeth, you need to be patient. Most dogs do not like to have their mouth touched. You can always learn the brushing technique from a vet.
2. Use Dog Tooth Wipes
Dental wipes for dogs are a great alternative to a toothbrush and are highly beneficial for pets who simply do not tolerate brushing.
These wipes are soft, disposable and designed to clean your dog’s teeth and gums gently. Also, the wipes come in different flavors, so you can use the one your dog loves the most.
Dog tooth wipes need to be rubbed against your pet’s teeth to help remove plaque. However, one major drawback of the wipes is that they cannot reach the tiny nooks and crannies that a brush does.
When using dog tooth wipes, take necessary precautions, as you need to put your fingers inside your dog’s mouth. Also, make sure your pet does not swallow the wipes.
3. Offer Dental Chew Treats
There are many chew treats available in the market that are designed to help keep your dog’s teeth cleaner. These chew treats help control plaque and tartar on dogs’ teeth.
When your pet gnaws on a chew treat, the process helps massage the gums and keep his teeth clean by scraping away soft tartar.
Plus, chew treats help satisfy your dog’s natural desire to chomp, strengthens his teeth and reduces his overall stress level.
When buying chew treats, look for those that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal on the label.
4. Give Synthetic Bones
Chewing on raw bones also helps keep your dog’s teeth healthy and strong. If giving raw bones on a daily basis is not possible, then try synthetic bones that are specifically designed to strengthen your dog’s gums and teeth.
Chewing on these bones will help your dog get rid of plaque buildup and keep his teeth strong.
When shopping, look for natural choices like rawhide or a knucklebone. These are softer bones and are gentle on your pet’s teeth. Never give any synthetic bones that are hard, as they can fracture the teeth and damage the gums.
For safety, look for the VOHC seal of approval on the label.
5. Remove Food Particles
When your pet has finished eating, have a good look at his mouth. If you notice food particles, simply remove them.
This is very important, as food particles that are not removed can mix with saliva and bacteria to form plaque. Within a few days, plaque calcifies and hardens into tartar, which means more plaque buildup. This may ultimately result in gingivitis.
6. Offer Dry and Crunchy Food
Offering your dog specially formulated dry food or crunchy food can slow down the formation of plaque and tartar. Soft food can stick to the teeth and cause plaque and decay.
Also, crunchy food like carrots are good for your dog’s teeth.
In addition, you can buy special dog food that helps improve your pet’s periodontal health. These dental foods are designed using a specialized kibble that provides better mechanical cleansing of the teeth.
Ask your veterinarian about a special dental diet for your dog. If your pet needs one, your vet can prescribe it.
Not just food, you also need to make sure your pet is drinking enough water. Water helps wash away food particles stuck between the teeth and helps fight bad breath.
7. Look for Signs of Trouble
Being a responsible pet owner, you need to keep an eye on your pet’s oral health.
For instance, do a breath test once a month. Simply sniff your dog’s breath to see if there’s a bad odor. If you find the breath offensive and it’s accompanied by a loss of appetite, vomiting or excessive drinking or urinating, make an appointment with your vet.
Another thing that you can do is check your pet’s lips. Once a week, lift your dog’s lips and carefully examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, and there should be no signs of swelling. Also, the teeth should look clean, without any brownish tartar.
If there is swelling or redness around the gums or the teeth have a brown tinge, it is time to take your pet to the vet.
8. Visit a Professional
From time to time, take your pet to see a veterinary dentist. A professional cleaning and regular checkup will help maintain oral hygiene and allow timely diagnosis of any oral issues.
A thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums requires anesthesia, but a professional cleaning is the best way to maintain your dog’s dental hygiene. On average, dogs should be given dental cleaning once a year starting at the age of 3.
During the appointment, don’t hesitate to ask questions and gather as much information as you need.
- Become familiar with the possible oral problems your dog may encounter. This will help you identify issues early and prevent major problems.
- Before brushing, spend some time handling your pet’s mouth so that he comfortably moves his lips aside to expose more of the teeth.
- Always select a brush size that is appropriate for your pet’s mouth, and one with soft bristles.
- Be sure not to harm your pet’s mouth in the process of brushing.
- Do not feed your dog table scraps.
- You can always ask your vet for a tooth care demonstration.