By Katie Finlay, from the AKC website
When it comes to keeping our dogs healthy, many owners overlook the importance of oral hygiene. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, it’s estimated that the majority of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by just three years old. Since the primary sign of early dental disease is bad breath, it often goes unnoticed by owners because they simply think that bad breath is something dogs just happen to have. Sure, it’s not minty fresh, but your dog’s breath also shouldn’t be bad enough to make you gag.
Periodontal disease can cause some serious health issues for our canine companions, so it’s essential to maintain adequate oral hygiene. Untreated dental disease can cause tooth loss, and it can lead to painful abscesses and systemic infections throughout your dog’s entire body. This is always bad news, especially when it comes with an increased risk of permanent jaw damage and heart disease. Both of these things have been linked to long-term periodontal disease in our dogs. So how can we keep our dogs’ teeth clean? Here are some tips!
Brushing Your Dog's Teeth
Brushing your dog’s teeth might sound silly, but it’s an excellent way to prevent plaque buildup. You don’t need to brush your dog’s teeth daily, although the more often the better. Most dogs aren’t too fond of the idea at first, but you can easily train your dog to have his teeth brushed the same way you would to have his nails trimmed. There are several options you can take when brushing teeth. First, you’ll want to get toothpaste that is made specifically for dogs. This is because toothpaste for humans contains ingredients that are toxic to our pets. Plus, dog toothpaste usually comes in a delicious chicken or peanut butter flavor. Second, you can use either a canine toothbrush or a brush that fits over your fingertip. Ask your veterinarian about what’s best, and see what you and your dog prefer.
Dog Tooth Wipes
For those that are unable to brush teeth or simply want to switch up their cleaning techniques, tooth wipes are a great solution. Tooth wipes are made to be rubbed against your dog’s teeth to help remove plaque. They work similarly to toothbrushes, but are not able to get into the tiny nooks and crannies that a brush does. Still, they are a great way to clean your pet’s teeth and are often easier to manage than a toothbrush with toothpaste.
Dog Dental Treats
Dogs love treats, and dental treats are a very good way to improve your pup’s dental health. These treats are made specifically to remove plaque buildup and often contain ingredients that freshen breath and clean your dog’s mouth. They are generally much more appreciated by our dogs than a toothbrush or tooth wipes, and they do a great job of keeping our dog’s mouth clean. These treats come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors, and you are sure to find something your dog loves.
There are hundreds of different types of chews, but almost all of them have teeth-cleaning properties. The act of chewing actually benefits your dog’s oral health, in and of itself, regardless of what is being chewed on. The gnawing scrapes plaque off your dog’s teeth, and many all-natural treats made from meat contain enzymes that help promote dental health. Chews like cow ears, bully sticks, and chicken strips are a great way to keep your dog happy and healthy. If you’re looking for something without any calories, there are many long-lasting rubber or nylon chews that do the job, as well.
Perhaps the best way to ensure your dog’s oral health is to have him undergo a professional cleaning by a veterinarian. Your veterinarian knows what’s best for your dog’s teeth and will be able to address any issues she finds. Although much more expensive than the other tips we’ve mentioned, a professional dental cleaning is the best way to maintain your dog’s dental hygiene. Your veterinarian is experienced in preventing, locating, and treating any issues that might go unnoticed by even the most dedicated dog owner. If there is one option you choose to promote your dog’s dental health, we suggest visiting your veterinarian for a professional exam.