As pet owners, we do a lot to make sure our pets are in tip-top shape. From regular health care exams to some of the healthiest dog food around, you probably put a lot into your dog’s health. However, dental hygiene is commonly overlooked.
Taking care of your dog’s teeth is essential for their overall health and wellbeing. Poor dental hygiene can lead to all sorts of diseases, which can be quite painful for our furry friends.
While we can take our dog to the vet for professional teeth cleaning, dental procedures often require general anesthesia, which is expensive and can cause side effects. Instead, it is usually better to forego professional, veterinary cleanings as long as possible by taking care of your pup’s teeth at home.
Here is everything you need to know about keeping your dog’s mouth sparkling:
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Just like humans, brushing is the first and best defense against periodontal disease for dogs. Brushing your dog’s teeth is much like brushing your teeth. You’ll need a toothbrush and toothpaste. However, practically no dog likes to have their teeth cleaned, so there is a little bit of strategy involved. It is always best to start as young as possible with a tooth brushing routine so your dog knows what to expect. If your dog is not used to their teeth being touched, you will have to start slow.
The first step to brushing your dog’s teeth successfully is to invest in a proper toothbrush. There are many different toothbrushes available, some that look like average human toothbrushes to those that fit over your finger. Most of these are quite inexpensive, so we recommend trying out a few to see which one you and your dog prefers. We prefer the double-sided toothbrushes that fit over your finger, as these allow you to brush both rows of teeth very efficiently.
The toothpaste you get is also necessary. It should be enzymatic, which means that it has enzymes in it to help break down the plaque. Many kinds of toothpaste designed for dogs come in dog-friendly flavors, like bacon and peanut butter. Some dogs like every flavor, while others are a little pickier. If your dog is picky about what kind of food and treats they eat, they’ll probably be picky about the flavor of their toothpaste as well.
You should brush your dog’s teeth a few times a week and extra if they get a bad breath between sessions. Daily brushing is preferred, but this can be overwhelming for most pet parents. You should brush their teeth similarly as you brush your teeth, making sure to brush along the gum line. Try to choose a time when your dog is well-exercised and relax. Take your time and have plenty of treats nearby.
Use Dog Dental Chews
While brushing your dog’s teeth is the best way to keep them clean, there are also a couple of more natural ways you can help keep your dog’s teeth extra clean. Dental chews are one of these ways. There are countless bones and treats out there that claim to keep your dog’s mouth clean. None of these are a replacement for teeth brushing, but they can be an excellent addition – especially for dogs who tend to fight their toothbrushing sessions.
Almost all chews have some dental benefits. In the wild, dogs keep their teeth clean by chewing on bones, which scrap of the plaque and tartar as they chew. In our homes, this works much in the same way. Despite what some companies will tell you, all chews are the same when it comes to their dental cleaning properties. Because of this, your first concern should be the safety of the chew. That means choosing chews that are rawhide-free and those that won’t splinter when chewed.
Often, it is better to keep things more straightforward. Instead of investing in an expensive bag of dental chews, it is usually better to pick up some basic bones from the pet store.
Keep an Eye on Their Oral Health
Every time you clean your pet’s teeth, you should give your pet’s mouth a quick once over. A healthy dog mouth looks a lot like a healthy human mouth. Their gums should be light pink, but not red and swollen. Their teeth should be white and clean, and they shouldn’t have any out-of-place growths on their gums or tongue. You should also keep an eye out for tooth loss. If you notice that anything is off, it is essential to talk to your vet right away. Dental problems that are caught early are often far easier and cheaper to treat than those that are found later. Your vet will likely need to do a dental x-ray to see the problem clearer.
Furthermore, checking their mouth can also prevent sticks and other debris from getting lodged for an extended period. It isn’t uncommon for dogs to get sticks stuck along the roof of their mouth.
Does the Type of Food Matter?
Yes! You will want to feed your pet the best dog food because the type of dog food does matter when it comes to your pet’s dental health. Dry food has natural abrasive properties, which can help keep your dog’s teeth clean. According to some studies, dry food substantially decreases a dog’s risk for specific oral health problems. If your dog has significant oral issues, you might want to consider switching their food. Still, as long as you’re taking care of their teeth in other ways, it is often not necessary to change their diet.
With that said, specialty high quality made dog food that is designed to improve dental health can be helpful as well. However, it is vital to get a complete picture of your pet’s health before switching their dog food. If the dental food is poor quality, it is often best to continue with your dog’s current food.
The Importance of Oral Care
Brushing our pet’s teeth is essential for their overall wellbeing and health. Pet dental disease like gingivitis can often cause other issues and might require expensive surgeries, which come with their side effects. While it might be challenging to begin a toothbrushing routine with our dogs, it’s essential if we want them to grow old and happy.