Good dental health is just as important to a dog’s overall well-being as nutrition and exercise. Dental disease is common among dogs, but that’s only because their teeth are not cared for frequently enough. Keeping your dog’s teeth in good shape means regular care as well as occasional visits to the vet for a thorough check-up. Here are some tips for including dental care in your normal routine with your dog, including some fun ways to keep teeth strong and healthy, as well as some information on common canine dental issues and how to take care of them.
You should brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week using toothpaste specially formulated for dogs and a canine toothbrush; there are many varieties of both products, and your local pet store can give you com guidance on which might be best for your dog. Never use human toothpaste on a dog; dogs can’t spit the toothpaste out and it can make them very sick when they swallow it. Canine toothpastes also come in a flavors like beef that will appeal to your dog and make brushing more pleasant for him. When you brush, be sure to brush along the gum line as well as on the teeth to remove buildup, and don’t forget your dog’s back teeth. You can use a circular motion, much like when you are brushing your own teeth, and ask your vet for tips on good brushing.
Brushing isn’t the only way to ensure healthy teeth in dogs; there are several things you can do on a daily basis to keep your dog’s teeth clean and strong. In general, feeding your dog dry food is better for his teeth because it can help prevent a lot of plaque from building up. You should also encourage your dog to use chew toys if he likes them; just like hard food, these can help clean his teeth when he chews on them. The same goes for rawhide or other chews. Using toys and treats can be fun for you and your dog; just make sure to supervise when he is playing with them. Finally, try to avoid feeding your dog scraps or lots of sugary treats, as they can cause plaque and tarter to build up, and sugar can cause cavities. As your dog gets older, his teeth may become more sensitive, so he may prefer softer foods. This is fine, but remember to brush his teeth regularly so they stay clean.
Dental disease occurs as a result of plaque and tartar build-up on your dog’s teeth, which causes bacteria to grow. This bacteria can cause mouth pain, tooth loss, and other dental problems. If not treated, it can spread and affect other parts of the body such as the heart and kidneys. You should inspect your dogs teeth every time you brush to make sure there is nothing unusual. Symptoms of dental disease include bad breath, tooth discoloration, puffy, red gums, loose teeth, and a reluctance of your dog to chew. Contact your vet right away should you notice any of these symptoms.
Dental disease is pretty easy to avoid as long as you take good care of your dog’s teeth at home and you make sure to get them checked out by a vet during each of your visits. Vets can provide a professional dental cleaning, which removes plaque, stain, and tartar encrusted above and below the gum line; consult your vet on how often you should have this done.