Just as with humans, animals and pets such as our dogs require routine dental cleaning care in order to keep their mouths clean and healthy. Today, our Sacramento vets explain how to properly clean your dog's mouth and teeth as well as how to provide proper dental care.
How Can I Care For My Dog's Teeth?
Your dog's oral health is an essential element of their overall well-being. Dogs often begin showing signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they reach about 3 years of age. This early start to dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health.
In humans, studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and heart disease and this appears to hold true for our pets as well.
The link between heart disease and periodontal disease in dogs is due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function and causing issues with other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.
At-home oral health care routines paired with dental treats can go a long way to helping your pooch keep their teeth clean and control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Nonetheless, the best way to ensure that your pup’s mouth stays clean and healthy is to take your dog to the vet for an annual dental exam and hygiene cleaning.
Neglecting annual professional cleaning could put your dog at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay and tooth loss.
Should I be cleaning my dog's teeth?
As a pet owner, you play an essential role in helping your dog fight dental disease. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your dog's mouth healthy and how to clean your dog's teeth:
- Use a finger brush from your vet, or a child’s toothbrush to brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove any plaque or debris. It's as simple as brushing your own teeth. If your dog resists having their teeth cleaned try some doggie toothpaste in flavors your pooch will find irresistible. These special toothpastes can turn a chore into a treat.
- Use a plaque prevention product (your vet can recommend some), which you can apply to your pet’s teeth and gums. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
- Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or food designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.
Dental care is an important part of your pet's overall health. Some of the best ways you can help keep your dog's teeth clean are:
Regularly Brushing Your Dog's Teeth
For both dogs and humans, teeth brushing is the foundation of good oral health. Just like with people, it’s ideal to brush teeth daily. If you don’t have time for that, brushing teeth at least once a week will suffice, though the more often the better. Most dogs will learn to tolerate and appreciate teeth cleanings, even if they don’t like it at first. Specifically-designed dog toothbrushes with angled handles, soft bristles, and even multiple heads make reaching all the tiny nooks and crevices inside your dog’s mouth easier and quicker. You’ll need toothpaste specifically designed for dogs, as human toothpaste contains toxic ingredients like xylitol and fluoride that could cause significant harm. Dog toothpaste comes in many appealing flavors like peanut butter, beef, and chicken. Try different combinations of toothpaste and toothbrushes to see what suits you and your pup best. Establishing a regular teeth cleaning schedule at home will take less time than you think and go a long way toward keeping your dog’s teeth clean.
Provide Dental Chews To Help Scrub Away Plaque
Providing your dog with dental chews helps to keep their teeth clean while offering them the happiness of receiving a treat. Another upside to providing these types of chews is that your dog will also be too busy to cause any mischief elsewhere. These chews will help to reduce the amount of plaque and tartar on your dog's teeth while increasing the blood flow to the teeth and gums. It is important that you always monitor your dog while they are chewing on one of the specialized treats.
Utilize Dog Dental Spray To Freshen Breath
If your dog’s stinky breath is causing you to miss out on cuddles or kisses, or if you only have a short amount of time to spare, dog dental sprays are the ideal solution. It’s a quick and easy way to take care of your dog’s teeth, as dog dental sprays can be used alone or in between brushings. These sprays kill plaque-causing bacteria to make your dog’s breath smell fresh. In addition to odor-eliminating effect, dental sprays can also remove and prevent tartar and plaque build-up. Most sprays are simple to use: they simply require owners to spritz the teeth and gums. Since some dogs just won’t stay still for an oral cleaning, dental sprays can also be applied to dog toys and licked off for instant fresh breath with minimal effort. Dog dental spray works best when dogs don’t eat for a half hour before and after spraying.
Offer Chew Toys to Help Clean Their Teeth
If you’re raising a fun-loving dog, they’ll love playing with a chew toy and you’ll love how it destroys their boredom instead of your shoes. When it comes to keeping your dog busy and entertained, chew toys are one of the best solutions. Providing dogs with a chew toy satisfies their natural instincts to chew, keeps them occupied, and helps improve their oral health. Dogs of every age explore the world through their teeth. For puppies, gnawing naturally soothes teething pain and keeps adult dogs mentally-stimulated. Chewing is the natural way for dogs to clean their teeth as the constant gnawing scrapes plaque off of teeth. They are made of a variety of materials ranging from plastic, rubber, nylon, and rawhide. We suggest rotating different types of boredom-busting chew toys to keep dogs interested. These toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes so you’re sure to find something that settles your dog’s playfulness.
Bring Your Dog In For Routine Veterinary Dental Care
An essential way to protect your furry friend’s oral health is through regular professional cleanings with your veterinarian. Veterinarians are skilled at identifying, preventing, and treating any dental problems they find that may otherwise go unnoticed. Most dogs need oral exams and cleanings at least once per year so veterinarians can check for early warning signs of serious problems. Some breeds, like Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers, and Dachshunds, are more susceptible to periodontal disease. They may require more frequent cleanings every six months. Veterinarians can remove plaque below the gum line, where toothbrushes can’t reach. Dental cleanings involve taking x-rays to evaluate the health of the jawline and tooth roots. Veterinarians will scale and polish teeth to remove plaque and tartar while your dog is under general anesthesia. Veterinarians can also safely fill or extract teeth as needed. Though this is the most expensive and time-consuming option, we recommend making veterinarian oral exams a priority. Your dog’s teeth will thank you for it!
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.