Tips for Maintaining Your Dog's Dental Health

Posted by Jackie Ly on

owner brushing her dog's teeth

Maintaining your dog's dental hygiene is an important part of keeping them healthy. Just like how training and socialising must be done regularly to keep them physically and mentally active, oral care should be a regular thing too!

A nutritious diet and regular dental treatment for your dog are some of the ways to reduce their chance of developing oral disorders in the future. Here are other things you can do to maintain your dog’s dental health.

Start early

If you get your dog as a puppy, introduce brushing as early as possible. The earlier you start brushing their teeth and introducing them to tooth cleaning items, the less fuss they’re likely to make in the next cleaning sessions. 

Also, if you start early, the less likely they are to get dental problems or worse, periodontal disease, in the long run.

And if you get your dog as an adult, it’s never too late! The key is to associate brushing with positive reinforcement, so they’ll see it as a good thing because it leads to rewards.

Even though they don't like it at first, most dogs will eventually learn to accept it and even like having their teeth cleaned.

Brush your dog’s teeth

The foundation of good oral health is clean teeth. Ideally, you can brush your dog's teeth every day. But if you don't have time for that, brushing their teeth at least once a week will do, but the more often the better.

Here are steps you can do to successfully brush your dog’s teeth:

  1. Buy a toothbrush and a tasty-flavoured toothpaste designed for dogs.
  2. Let your dog lick the toothpaste and sniff the toothbrush while you sit comfortably with them on your lap or at your feet.
  3. Brush their teeth slowly and delicately in an oval pattern and go in between and under each tooth.
  4. Brush for less than a minute, or as long as they find it enjoyable.
  5. Give your dog praise, pats, and even dental treats as a reward!

Use doggy toothbrushes and toothpastes

Specifically-designed toothbrushes for dogs have angled handles, soft bristles, and even several heads. This makes it easier and simpler for you to reach every tiny nook and crevice of  your dog’s mouth. 

Only use toothpaste made particularly for dogs because human toothpaste includes possibly harmful toxic ingredients like xylitol and fluoride. There are numerous tasty kinds of dog toothpaste, including peanut butter, steak, and chicken. 

To find what works best for you and your dog, try a few different toothpaste and toothbrush combinations.

Give them dental treats

Dogs enjoy treats, and dog dental treats are a great way to improve your dog's oral health. These treats are designed particularly to get rid of plaque accumulation and often have substances that clean your dog's mouth and refresh breath.

Dog dental chews help your dog brush their teeth while also satisfying their natural need for a tasty treat. Also, your dog will be too occupied munching on snacks to cause problems elsewhere. These chews are intended to reduce plaque and tartar buildup while giving your dog brilliant, shiny teeth. Make sure you get only quality ones because a few “dog dental” products in supermarkets only do more harm than good. 

A lot of natural meat-based chews also include enzymes that support dental health. Chew treats like bully sticks, chicken strips, and cow ears are excellent for keeping your dog entertained and healthy.

Give them interactive chew toys 

Dogs of all ages use their teeth to explore their environment. Gnawing naturally relieves teething pain in puppies and keeps older dogs mentally active. Chewing itself is good for your dog’s dental health. Chewing removes plaque from their teeth.

They just love to play and chew, and interactive chew toys give them the best of both worlds! Just be careful of the chew toys you buy, since you don’t want them eating chemicals such as worn-off paint colour.

You can apply the thumbnail test– If the chew doesn’t "give" slightly when you press it with your thumbnail, it is too hard for your dog and might break their teeth. They ought to be strong enough to not easily break into little bits while still being soft enough to chew without risking tooth damage. 

But as your dog matures from a puppy to an adult, you'll probably discover that you need to adjust the chew toys you buy for your dog's size and bite level. After all, there’s no more convenient way to get them to clean their own teeth while having fun!

Feed them a healthy diet 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all diet for dogs. You can always get advice from your veterinarian in choosing the ideal diet for your dog. A healthy diet and regular dental care for your dog can reduce their chance of developing oral disorders in the future.

Untreated dental disease may lead to tooth loss and other severe infections in your dog's body.

If recommended, give your pet a special dental diet

For optimal oral health, some dogs need to eat a particular dental diet. There are dog dental kibbles with added cleaning agents that your dog can eat. There are dry dog foods with specialised formulas that reduce plaque and tartar if your dog continues to struggle with plaque buildup. 

Check their teeth and gums

Monitor what's happening in your dog's mouth and check on their gums and teeth from time to time. Their teeth have to be spotless and free of stains from brown tartar. Their gums should be pink and  if they are white, red, or swollen, see a veterinarian. 

Visit the vet for regular cleanings

Regular professional cleanings with your veterinarian is important in maintaining your dog's dental health. Veterinarians are skilled at spotting, stopping, and treating any dental issues they discover that could otherwise go undetected. 

Most  dogs require dental examinations and cleanings at least once a year so that vets may look for any early indications of serious issues.

Periodontal disease in dogs

The oral cavity of your dog may get infected with periodontitis germs. Often, this disease silently infects their mouth, and you won't notice any severe symptoms or indicators until it advances. 

Gum disease can result in tooth and bone loss, gum erosion, and chronic pain. Moreover, the structures that support the teeth are vulnerable to decay or destruction.

Signs of periodontal diseases

These are some of the telltale signs of canine periodontitis that you should be aware of.

  • Inflamed or bleeding gums
  • discoloured teeth (brown or yellow)
  • missing or loose teeth
  • poor breath (halitosis)
  • Irritability
  • Loss of weight
  • Bloody or "ropey" saliva
  • loss of appetite
  • one side of the mouth is preferred when eating
  • excessive salivation
  • Blood on chew toys or in the water dish

Periodontal disease affects your dog's mouth, but it can also damage other key organs and result in heart disease as bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and settle in the area surrounding the heart.

See a vet if your dog has periodontal disease

If your dog has tartar buildup, poor breath, or has been showing signs of periodontal disease, schedule a checkup as well as a scaling and polish. Your veterinarian will use x-rays to look at the teeth's roots. Root canals and seals can maintain and/or restore your dog’s dental health.

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