How to keep your dog’s teeth healthy

Unfortunately, the importance of our pets’ oral health is often neglected. February is ‘Pet Dental Health Month’, where we spread awareness around dental health and disease in our pets. Dogs use their mouths for much more than eating, and they are as important as hands are to us, so caring for your dog’s teeth is critical. Here, we explain how a dog’s healthy and happy life can start with their oral hygiene.

In order to prevent further development of dental disease, it is crucial to maintain the cleanliness of your pet’s mouth. Dental disease is very common and comes in the form of gum recession, gum inflammation, abscesses and tooth loss. This can lead to pain, inappetence and, potentially, starvation.

Poor oral hygiene can also lead to an abundance of serious health issues. It can cause the bacteria from the mouth to travel to other parts of the body such as the heart valves, the kidneys and the lungs. As well as being unpleasant for your dog, these are considerably harder to treat than regular gum disease. Therefore, dental health is incredibly important and should not be forgotten about.

On the brighter side, dental disease is easy to prevent. With some preventative care and a little maintenance, you have the key to success.

Brushing

Veterinarians recommend brushing your dog’s teeth daily. Brushing a dog’s teeth is easy, but the process is not identical to how we brush our own. Be sure to buy an appropriately sized toothbrush and a good quality toothpaste formulated for dogs. These can be found at most pet stores. Do not use your own toothpaste, as regular human toothpaste usually includes fluoride, which is extremely poisonous to dogs.

Home brushing should only last a swift 30 to 60 seconds and a dog’s teeth should be brushed horizontally (back and forth). Unlike human brushing, dogs’ teeth only need to be brushed on the outer side, as 96% of dog dental disease is developed on the outer side.

Brushing your dog’s teeth removes the build-up of plaque, which can eventually lead to dental disease. A clean mouth can also improve any bad breath odour. So, incorporate the cleaning your dog’s teeth into your daily routine and make maintenance of their ‘pearly whites’ a priority. Stay consistent with performing daily home care and your dog will soon become accustomed to the brushing process.

 Reconsider your treat choices

As delicious as your dog may find them, many snacks are detrimental for your dog’s dental health, especially those that contain sugar, fats, and cereal grains.

There are a wide variety of dried meat treats available that provide excellent chewing action that will help keep the teeth clean. Dried beef ears or snouts, dried tendons and oesophagus are eagerly accepted by most dogs, even those who are fussy about their snacks. Foods such as carrots, pumpkin and apples can also help scrape food off teeth. Of course, only feed these treats to your pet in moderation.

Chews

Many chews offer dental health benefits and are a great component to an oral-hygiene plan. These snacks are proven to reduce plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth.

When looking for a chewy treat for your pet, be sure to look for chews with a twisted design. These designs and the presence of numerous ridges will help clean tarter from hard to reach places.

Ensure the chews are your dog’s favourite meaty flavour and aroma. Ensuring that your dog loves the taste, texture and scent will make it easy to feed them and will encourage them to gnaw away.

It’s a great idea to buy chews that feature added vitamins and minerals, for greater nutritional value. It is also wise to select a dental chew comprised of easily digested ingredients, such as rice.

Annual Dental Checks

Dental checks are a great opportunity for your vet to check your pet’s mouth. They can give you professional advice, can identify any conditions and can help you decide on a treatment plan.