A dog’s mouth is an indicator of more than just their dental health. If their teeth and gums are under par, it could spell big trouble for their overall health, with heart disease, bone loss, and even diabetes all linked to poor oral hygiene. Fortunately, there’s plenty of things you can do to keep your dog’s teeth in tip-top condition, starting with these five awesome tips.
1. Brush their teeth
We’re all used to brushing our own teeth regularly (well, hopefully, anyway) but how many of us can truthfully say we’re as vigilant in brushing out pet’s teeth as we are our own? But brush them we might very well need to. A dog’s mouth is naturally alkaline, meaning they’re more prone to plaque build-up than those with a more acidic smile. And what’s the best way to tackle plaque before it develops into something more serious? You’ve got it – brush it away. Left untreated, plague can contribute to canine periodontal disease, a troublesome condition that’s all too common among our furry friends, even those as young as three years old. As periodontal disease can cause everything from tooth loss to permanent jaw damage and heart disease, it’s vital to get a head start on it. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly can make a huge difference to the possibility of periodontal disease developing – and will do wonders for your dog’s breath at the same time.
Brushing everyday isn’t necessary, but aim to do it at least once or twice a week if you can. Before you start your pooch on their new oral routine, make sure you’re probably equipped. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that are toxic to dogs, so be sure to purchase a doggy-friendly version. If your dog isn’t keen on the idea of having their teeth brushed, look for toothpaste in a flavor they’ll love – chicken or peanut butter usually go down a storm. When it comes to the toothbrush itself, you can either use a standard brush or a finger brush that fits conveniently over your fingertip (this is great for pups or dogs with smaller mouths, but you might want to stick to a standard brush if your dog’s a biter).
2. Give them a treat
Dog’s love a treat, and owners love a dog with fresh breath and pearly whites. Fortunately, there’s a way of combining the two in a way that’ll make both you and them very happy indeed. Instead of treating your pet to table scraps, indulge them with some treats created specifically to remove plaque build-up and give them a gleaming, fresh-smelling smile. You’ll find plenty of options on the market, some designed to suit small-jawed pooches and others designed for larger beasties. If your dog resents having their teeth brushed, dental treats can do a great job of keeping their teeth clean, without you losing a finger in the process.
3. Treat them to a chew toy
As dentalmedicineblog.com reports, a chew toy can do wonders for keeping your dog’s mouth healthy. Because of how they appeal to a dog’s natural instinct to chew, they’re guaranteed to go down a treat with your pooch, regardless of whether they know its real purpose or not. As well as providing enough friction around the gum line to remove any nasty plague buildup, the toys act as natural flossers, whipping away any lingering pieces of meat or food that could cause problems down the line. The toys come in a variety of strengths and sizes, so be sure to match your dog’s requirements to the toy – if your pooch has a small jaw or sensitive teeth, look for a softer option; if they’re big jawed or hard-core chewers, look for one made of sturdy, durable material. Regardless of what type of toy you plump for, stay vigilant to any signs of wear and replace it immediately if it starts to look a little worn or ragged.
4. Invest in some dog tooth wipes
Brushing their teeth might be the fastest and surest way to keep your dog’s mouth in tip-top condition, but not all dogs take kindly to having a brush stuck in their mouth. If your pooch would rather do just about anything than have their teeth brush, don’t panic. As Dog Time writes, tooth wipes are an effective way of removing plaque and are usually much better tolerated than a brush. If you’re on the go and have left their usual toothbrush and toothpaste at home, they’re also super convenient for giving your dog’s teeth a quick polish after meals.
Just one word of warning before you get too carried away with the idea – while wipes are great for removing plaque build-up and debris from the surface of the teeth, they’re not quite as useful as a brush for getting into any nooks and crannies. If you want to keep your pet’s teeth in the best condition possible (and assuming they absolutely refuse to have anything to do with a toothbrush), you might want to complement the wipes with chew toys and dental treats, both of which will help reach the parts of the tooth that wipes can’t reach.
5. Start a regular routine asap
If you thought you could delay dental care until your dog was at least a few years old, think again. Almost 50% of dogs under the age of 3 have periodontal disease… although you might not know it by looking at them. As Brett Beckman, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC, DAAPM, tells Pet MD, the number 1 sign of periodontal disease is no signs at all. Don’t wait until your dog starts getting smelly breath or displays visible signs of tooth pain – dogs are notorious at keeping even chronic pain to themselves, and could be suffering even if they seem their normal happy self. Start practicing good oral hygiene sooner rather than later – your dog will thank you for it in the end.