From designer dog food to the best toys your pet store has to offer, you are a responsible dog parent who would do anything for the furriest member of your family. This care includes taking them to a yearly veterinary appointment and making sure they are up to date on all their vaccinations. However, there is an integral aspect of caring for your dog you might be overlooking: their dental health.
Here are a few simple tips to help keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy and strong.
Watch for Symptoms of Oral Disease
An alarming 80 percent of dogs over the age of three suffer from dental disease. Here are a few of the most common signs of canine oral disease:
- Bleeding gums
- Red and swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Reluctance to eat
- Yellow stains
- Missing teeth
- Excessive whining
Keep a look out for growths or noticeable bumps inside your dog’s mouth. These could be a sign of an abscess, which is an infection that requires immediate care, or another serious medical condition.
Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Daily
Brushing your teeth twice a day will help prevent unnecessary visits to the dentist. Your dog’s teeth require similar attention. Start brushing your dog’s teeth daily when they are still a puppy. This habit not only protects their developing teeth and gums, it also helps them become accustomed to the process. Purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste specially designed for use with dogs.
Do not use human toothpaste on dogs. Remember, your dog cannot spit out the fluoride, and allowing them to swallow it could be damaging. Doggie toothpaste is flavored and more palatable.
Grab a towel and place it under your dog. Sit down next to your dog, separate their lips with one hand, and begin brushing your dog’s teeth in a circular motion.
After you are finished, give your dog a treat. If your dog is reluctant, contact your veterinarian to help you create a routine your dog can tolerate.
Switch to Kibble
Dry dog food is typically less expensive, easier to store, and can be left out for several hours without spoiling. Kibble has another advantage over wet food: it is healthier for your dog’s teeth. While your dog chomps down on dry food, the coarse pieces will clean food, tartar, and other buildup from their teeth.
If your dog prefers wet food or is on a restrictive diet and cannot eat kibble, provide them with hard dog treats or biscuits at least twice a day. There are several treats and toys designed to remove tartar buildup for a dog’s teeth as well.
Schedule a Yearly Oral Examination
Ask your veterinarian to include an oral examination in your dog’s yearly checkup. In addition to watching for early signs of oral disease, the dentist will determine if your dog will benefit from a cleaning. Here is what will happen during your dog’s dental cleaning:
- Your veterinarian will take oral X-rays and blood samples to determine if there are any issues beneath the gum line or determine if your dog is suffering from an illness that can impact their ability to tolerate anesthesia.
- Next, your vet will administer local anesthesia and scrape away any plaque or tartar at the dog’s gum line.
- The final two steps are scaling and polishing. Scaling is the process of scraping tartar and plaque off your dog’s teeth. Polishing creates a smooth surface on the teeth, which helps prevent bacteria and buildup from adhering to the enamel.
Typically, your dog will return home the day of the cleaning.
Caring for your dog’s teeth properly will help prevent oral health issues in the future. If you have any further questions, contact the professionals at Kenmore Veterinary Hospital.