Your dog’s dental health isn’t just about how his teeth look or how his breath smells. Mouth and gum issues are a common canine health problem which can lead to serious health issues down the road if not treated. In fact, it’s so common that it affects approximately 80 percent of dogs by the time they’re three years old.
When it comes to your dog’s dental health, your job as his caretaker is to focus on prevention. Maintaining your dog’s oral health by keeping his teeth clean and healthy can prevent or slow the progression of any dental health issues. Plus, regular maintenance prevents you from needing to dip into your savings to pay for an expensive dental or medical procedure that could have otherwise been avoided.
Plaque that isn’t removed from the teeth turns into tartar, which is harmful to the gums. Removing plaque from your dog’s pearly whites on a regular basis (daily is ideal) is the most important step you can take for optimal dental health.
If Fido is reluctant to sit still and have a foreign object shoved in his mouth, don’t force it—you want this to be a positive experience, especially if it’s going to happen regularly. A little bit of brushing is better than no brushing at all, so don’t give up; just try again later. Find a calm, quiet spot in your house and try to turn tooth brushing into a positive bonding experience. Treats as a reward are always a good incentive, too!
There are several toothbrush options out there for your canine, but try to find something that best fits your dog’s mouth. When in doubt, your vet can always provide recommendations. Some dog owners prefer silicone finger brushes in favor of canine toothbrushes, which are also effective.
Never give your dog human toothpaste, as it can contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Plus, there are plenty of dog-friendly toothpastes out there that come in your pup’s preferred flavors, such as seafood or chicken.
If your pooch’s dental problems mean that using a toothbrush is too painful, you can also try doggie dental wipes to gently clean plaque from the teeth. This is also an option for dogs who are uncooperative with a toothbrush, though wipes aren’t quite as thorough as brushes with bristles.
Supplement your dog’s dental routine with Pet Honesty’s Oral Hygiene Dental Water: add one capful to his water bowl twice per day to freshen his breath and manage the build-up of plaque and tartar.
One popular misconception is that we don’t need to worry about our dogs’ dental care, since chewing cleans the teeth naturally. While this is partly true, chewing alone isn’t sufficient—there’s still no substitute for implementing a proper doggie dental routine.
That being said, chewing does have its benefits. In addition to being an outlet for stress, boredom, and excess energy, chewing also naturally scrapes plaque from the teeth.
To save your fancy shoes and furniture from bite marks, make sure your pooch has plenty of appropriate chew toys around the house. Safe rawhide alternatives, raw bones, chew toys, or even frozen carrots are all viable options. Some chew toys even come with specific teeth-cleaning ingredients.
Keep your dog’s teeth looking clean and breath smelling fresh with Pet Honesty’s chewable Oral Hygiene Fresh Sticks. For dogs experiencing seasonal allergies, try the Allergy Support Fresh Sticks to support immune and dental health.
In addition to focusing on your dog’s dental health, be sure to provide him with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of mental stimulation. It’s all connected, after all. Plus, the healthier your dog is, the easier it is to pinpoint specific health issues and determine the cause.
When you take your dog to the vet for his regular checkups, be sure he’s also getting an oral exam. In the meantime, talk to your vet if you notice any signs of dental health problems, such as:
- Bad breath (no one expects their dog’s breath to smell great, but it definitely shouldn’t be foul)
- Broken, loose, or missing teeth
- Excess teeth or crowding (for example, retaining baby teeth while the adult teeth grow in)
- Discolored teeth
- Abnormal chewing (favoring one side, dropping food from the mouth, drooling)
- Loss of appetite or reluctance to eat
- Changes in gum color
Behavioral changes (irritability could be a sign of pain)