Dental care is as important for dogs as it is for humans, and knowing how to clean your dog’s teeth and keep their dental hygiene in check is essential. Luckily for dogs, they aren’t as prone to cavities as humans are, but developing tartar, plaque build-up, or gingivitis could lead to tooth decay or even life threatening infections and issues including diseases of the heart, liver, and kidneys. Keep your dog healthy and safe with these dental hygiene routines, and learn more about what to look out for if you suspect poor hygiene.
Brushing. Get your dog out for some exercise and tire him out before you try to stick your hands into his mouth. Make sure he is comfortable, then using a doggie toothbrush (something that sits on the finger is sometimes easiest for smaller mouths, something with an extension similar to a human toothbrush may be easier for a larger mouth) scrub his teeth from the tips to the gums with doggie safe toothpaste (similar to child’s toothpaste, it will not contain fluoride so that it is safe to swallow). You should start brushing your dog’s teeth from when he is a puppy, but either way you want to start off slowly and take note that if your dog appears agitated by the procedure to ease him into it. Reward your dog after and praise him during so that he will soon look forward to his tooth brushing!
Food options. If your dog seems to always have smelly breath and he is given wet food with his meals, consider cutting back unless it is necessary for dietary concerns. Dry kibble will not stick to the teeth like soft, wet food, and the crunching of it will actually help to fight off plaque. There are bones and treats specifically formulated to fight plaque and bad breath, which can be used in between brushing as healthy rewards for other things. Bonus!
Signs to look out for. If any of the following applies to your dog, he should be taken to the vet for a dental exam to ensure that he is not on the way to developing a serious infection or other issues:
- Bad breath
- Change in eating or habits
- Pawing at the face or mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Misaligned or missing teeth
- Discolored, broken, missing or crooked teeth
- Red, swollen, painful or bleeding gums
- Yellowish-brown tartar crust along the gum line
- Bumps or growths within the mouth
Like humans, dogs should see the vet for a dental exam even with healthy teeth. At their normal six month or annual check-up, make sure your vet performs a dental exam as well. Letting your dog’s dental health go by the wayside could lead to costly procedures and harmful, if not fatal infections. Keep your dog safe by brushing and looking out for unhealthy signs.