Maintain Your Dog’s Pearly Whites: Healthy Canine Tooth and Gum Care
You love your dog and want to make sure that you do everything in your power to keep her happy and healthy at all times. You get the best dog food, go on plenty of walks, and always schedule routine check ups—but you may be forgetting about your dog’s teeth. Because dogs aren’t as prone to cavities as humans, the care of your K9’s canines can sometimes be neglected.
Plaque buildup and gingivitis can cause serious problems for a dog’s health, just as they can for humans. Unresolved dental issues in dogs can cause heart, liver, and kidney disease. Luckily, there are simple and easy steps you can take to ensure that your dog has a healthy mouth.
Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Regularly
The best thing you can do for your dog’s oral hygiene is to brush regularly. It’s not necessary to brush everyday, but maintaining a regular brushing schedule can help both you and your dog get into the habit. For starters, invest in a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste. Human toothpaste has ingredients that are toxic to dogs, and usually dog toothpaste comes in flavors like peanut butter or bacon.
Before you begin brushing, make sure your dog is comfortable and calm with your hand probing around inside her mouth. Choose a quiet space with good lighting where there won’t be many distractions. Pull her lips and mouth aside, and start with just the visible teeth. If your pup can only sit still for half of a toothbrush session, break it up so that you do half today and half tomorrow.
Go for Professional Canine Teeth Cleanings
On top of regular teeth brushing at home, be sure to bring your dog into the vet for regular teeth cleaning. Brushing at home is a great habit, but you may not be able to get as thoroughly into all of the nooks and crannies as your veterinarian will. Your veterinarian will know what to look for and will know how to handle any problems that may arise.
If your dog experiences excessive drooling; extremely bad breath; missing or broken teeth; red, swollen, or bleeding gums; or other irregularities in the mouth, be sure to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Even with healthy teeth and gums, your dog should go in for a cleaning every six months. When you bring your dog to the vet for regular check-ups, ask about a teeth cleaning.
Use Doggie Dental Treats
There are tons of treat brands out there that specialize in actually cleaning your dog’s teeth as she noshes. Dental treats work to remove plaque and buildup from teeth and gums, and often help to freshen stinky dog breath.
Dental treats come in a wide variety of shapes and flavors, so search around until you find something your dog loves. Dental treats can be a great way to help clean and freshen your dog’s mouth without the stress of teeth brushing.
Choose the Right Type of Dog Food
Some vets recommend dry food for good teeth health, while others say this is a misguided notion. Many vets swear that raw food, not dry food, is the best way to prevent plaque and tartar buildup in dogs. Raw bone is a gentle dental abrasive, and so it will naturally help to remove plaque. Raw meat contains enzymes that help to break down buildup on teeth.
Avoid dog treats that can be really tough on their teeth and could actually crack or damage weak teeth. When possible, go for natural dog treats and fruits and vegetables that are safe for dogs. Carrots, apples, dried meat, pumpkin, and squash are all healthy treats that your dog will love.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Even if it’s not possible for you to brush your dog’s teeth every day or to cook her a meal of carrots and squash, try to get in the routine of being conscious of your dog’s dental health. Brushing her teeth once a week is better than never brushing, and going to the vet every nine months is better than never going at all.
Be mindful of any changes in your dog’s dental hygiene, and don’t be afraid to check in with your veterinarian if you see anything out of the ordinary. The best thing you can do is to cultivate healthy habits for both you and your dog.
Author: Giano Panzarella