Unless your dog has a seriously bad case of doggie breath, their dental health needs may fly under your radar. However, poor oral hygiene can lead to both tooth loss and periodontal disease in dogs, which in turn may also affect their livers, hearts, and kidneys if the bacteria spreads through the bloodstream.
Here are five simple ways you can help keep their chompers healthy and strong.
1. Start a dental routine
Just like humans, dogs benefit greatly from brushing their teeth. All dogs develop tartar and plaque, which will lead to more serious tooth issues if left alone. Daily tooth brushing is safe and recommended for dogs, but if a daily routine is not feasible, brushing your dog’s teeth at least once per week will yield satisfactory results. Choose a dog toothbrush that is comfortable and safe for your pet, and make sure to use toothpaste and rinses specifically formulated for dogs. When brushing your dog’s teeth, check for debris caught in the gums and signs of tooth decay.
2. Set up regular dental exams
Cleaning your dog’s teeth will help control plaque and tartar, but regular brushing won’t get everything. Veterinarians recommend that dogs receive an oral exam and professional cleaning once per year. Dental cleanings by vets provide a deeper cleaning of bacteria that builds up below the gum line. In order to do a thorough cleaning, vets must anesthetize the dog during the procedure. Some pet owners are squeamish when they hear that anesthesia will be administered, though it is a regular procedure. Talk to your vet about why dental cleanings are important for you dog and about the process.
3. Get your dog chewing
Chewing is a natural behavior in dogs - one that can also benefit their oral hygiene. Chew toys and ropes, bones, rawhide, and chews provide friction along the gumline and act as natural flossers. Provide your dog with chew toys that are an appropriate size and shape, and let them start chomping their way to healthier teeth. Be sure to replace chew materials when they are worn, and provide durable toys and bones to aggressive chewers. If your dog has sensitive teeth, try latex toys and other softer chewing materials.
4. Monitor your dog’s diet
Diet can factor into overall dental health in a variety of ways. Make sure to feed your pets nutritionally balanced dog food. If tooth health is an issue, try using specially formulated dry foods that don’t crumble as easily to wear away plaque and tartar with chewing. Other dog foods inhibit bacteria growth and the formation of plaque. Talk to your vet before making a major change to your dog’s diet, and make sure to choose dental health food that has the Veterinary Oral Health Care (VOHC) seal. Avoid feeding your pooch table food, especially scraps that are high in carbs and sugars. And since dogs tend to eat pretty much anything, make sure your pets do not have access to trash, yard debris, or anything else they shouldn’t be munching on.
5. Try dental dog treats
Like chew toys, treats designed to promote oral health through the mechanical action of chewing help reduce plaque and tartar. Look for treats that have the VOHC seal as they have been tested and proven to reduce plaque and tartar. Dental dog treats come in a variety of sizes, shapes, textures, and flavors, and you can find all-natural options that do not have added colors or flavors. Though these treats are good for dogs’ teeth, they should still be considered snack foods and not be eaten in abundance.
Follow these five tips, and your dog will be on their way to having a very healthy mouth. Your pet will be thanking you each time they flash you that canine smile!
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by,your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.