Keeping your dog’s teeth clean is an important yet often overlooked part of pet health. Just like most of us neglect proper care of our car until the “Check Engine” light flashes, we also tend to neglect our pup’s oral health until a real problem occurs. Then, like our car, the problem is beyond simple maintenance and requires something more extensive, and more expensive.
By far, the best way to maintain healthy teeth and gums is with regular brushing. Most dental problems are caused by plaque. Regular brushing keeps the plaque from building up and causing periodontal disease. Like with humans, brushing every day is recommended for optimal dog dental health.
Be sure to use a toothbrush specifically used for dogs. Toothbrushes designed for humans are awkward when used in a dog’s mouths and the bristles much too hard for their sensitive gums. Brushes made to fit over your finger are often recommended. They allow you to have more control and are the most comfortable. Also, ensure to use a toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs. If you have a picky pup, you might have to try a few different brands before you find the one your dog likes.
Make It a Routine
It’s common for dogs to have anxiety when beginning regular teeth cleaning. Here are some tips on introducing them to their new routine:
- Introduce it gradually. It’s OK to start with once a week and work up to daily brushes.
- Start by using only your finger without a brush to gently massage your dog’s teeth and gums several times a week.
- Once your dog is comfortable with this, let your dog smell and taste the toothpaste.
- Try using the finger brush once your dog tolerates (or even likes) the toothpaste.
- Ensure you brush gently, using small, circular motions.
- Take special care and time on the outside of your dog’s teeth, where most plaque builds up.
- For excessive anxiety, try Naturegood’s Calm Dog all-natural supplement to help your dog relax
Beyond just brushing, take the opportunity to inspect the inside of your dog’s mouth for possible oral health problems. If you find any of the signs below, it’s time for a trip to the vet to get your dog’s mouth checked.
- Loose teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Red, inflamed gums
- Bad breath
- Unusual lumps or cysts
- Rotting teeth
- Excessive plaque
During this visit, your vet may want to put your dog under anesthesia to take a closer look and conduct a more thorough cleaning. A regular, professional cleaning is important to remove tartar build-up, clean under the gums and ensure there are no underlying dental problems. Your vet can also remove or repair any broken or damaged teeth, check or treat periodontal disease and provide a complete checkup of your dog’s mouth, lips and tongue.
So how else can you ensure your pup’s pearly whites are as healthy as can be?
- Ensure a proper, well-balanced diet and limit the temptation to give them people food.
- Ask your vet to apply an oral sealant that helps reduce tartar buildup.
- Buy chew toys designed to massage gums and clean teeth.
- Try all-natural dental treats like Zuke’s Z-Bone Dental Chew
It can be easy to ignore oral health as an essential part of keeping your pooch healthy and happy. Taking the time for regular teeth cleanings can easily become a positive part your regular pet care routine. Be patient, gradual and gentle and it just might become a bonding experience for both of you.