There are lots of ways to keep your dog’s dental health and hygiene in good shape. Every dog is different, which means that exactly what’s needed to keep their teeth and gums healthy can differ. However, what all dogs have in common is that proper dental hygiene is crucial to maintaining their overall health and wellness. This article covers why dental health is important for dogs, how to care for your dog’s teeth and gums at home, signs of dental disease in dogs, and what to do if you think your dog has a dental problem.
Why dental health is important for your dog
Keeping your dog healthy means considering all aspects of their health, including their teeth and gums. Just like with humans, dental disease (such as gingivitis) can be uncomfortable, cause smelly breath, and make simple functions, like eating, painful. Additionally, the bacteria that builds up as a result of dental disease can spread to other parts of the body, potentially causing issues in the blood and vital organs. So, keeping your dog’s mouth clean and healthy not only helps keep their breath fresh and their mouth comfortable, it can also have a huge impact on their health and quality of life.
4 ways to care for your dog’s teeth and gums
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to help prevent dental disease in dogs. Here are 4 options to consider:
1. Brush their teeth and gums
This may seem odd to some people, but a growing number of veterinary professionals recommend brushing your dog’s teeth. This helps keep their gums healthy while removing plaque and tartar from their teeth. Doing so on a regular basis should prevent any nasty bacteria from building up and causing problems.
To get your dog on board with the process, it’s a good idea to allow them to taste the dog-friendly toothpaste. This can help your dog perceive tooth-brushing time as a positive experience as they may think the toothpaste is a treat. Then, ease into the process by getting them comfortable with the sensation of their mouth being touched and the look and smell of the toothbrush so they feel calm and relaxed. Once they’re ready, use a dog-friendly toothbrush to clean their teeth and gums, making sure you get all the way to the back. The amount of time it takes to reach the brushing stage depends on your dog’s comfort level and reaction to the steps that precede it.
While the process for brushing your dog’s teeth is much like what us humans do, make sure you NEVER give your dog any human toothpaste. Some of the ingredients may be toxic to dogs and these products are not tailored to canine oral needs. However, when it comes to selecting a toothbrush, you can choose a child’s toothbrush or one made specifically for dogs, as both options are safe. That being said, toothbrushes made for dogs are the best option as they’re specifically designed to help keep dogs’ teeth clean.
2. Offer safe and natural chews
In addition to brushing your dog’s teeth and gums, offering them natural, safe chews is a great way to promote good dental health. Chewing is very important for dental health, as it can help remove plaque and tartar from their teeth. It also contributes to the maintenance of a strong and healthy jaw. Due to these effects, good chews can help prevent gum disease from developing, as well as bad breath. If you have a puppy, chews can also help with their teething pain.
3. Regularly check their mouth
To avoid any dental issues progressing, make sure to keep an eye on your dog’s mouth. Weekly or even daily checks help ensure you don’t miss any new issues or sources of pain or bad breath. When issues are detected early, the treatment for them is usually less invasive and expensive, which is good news for both you and your dog. Hopefully, your dog won’t develop any dental issues, and these regular checks will simply maintain your peace of mind that their mouth is perfectly healthy.
4. Feed them the right diet for their needs
The type of food you feed your dog depends on a wide range of factors. These can include your dog’s preferences, health conditions, age, and breed. Another consideration to throw into the mix is their dental health. For example, offering them something to crunch on during each meal can help them break down plaque and tartar, thus preventing gum disease. Therefore, it’s worth checking with your vet if your feeding plan is healthy for their teeth and gums, and if there’s anything you can do to improve it. Finding the right food for their needs is key to your dog’s dental and overall health.
Signs of dental disease in dogs
When completing your regular checks of your dog’s mouth and keeping a general eye on them, these are the key signs of dental disease to be on the lookout for:
- Smelly breath (all the time)
- Red, swollen, and/or bleeding gums
- Unusual levels of drooling
- Smaller appetite (this may result in weight loss)
- Discolouration of the teeth
- Trying to only chew on one side
- Missing or loose teeth
- Bloody saliva, which may be found in the mouth or on their toys
- Low mood or irritability
- Difficulty keeping food in their mouth
- Regularly rubbing at their face and mouth
What to do if your dog shows signs of dental disease
If your dog begins to show signs of dental disease, we recommend booking a vet appointment as soon as possible. The sooner you can have a professional assess and address the issue, the simpler the treatment should be. More progressed cases of dental disease may require more invasive treatment, including the removal of several teeth in some cases. Your vet will be able to treat any existing issues before they get worse and provide you with personalised advice for maintaining their dental health moving forward.
Our dogs are family members who rely on us to help keep their overall health in check. Keeping their mouth healthy is a crucial part of this. The key points to remember here are the importance of dental health and the best ways to prevent dental disease in dogs. The steps to maintain your dog’s dental health don’t take a lot of time or effort, but they do make a huge difference.