We all know how important it is to take care of our teeth. We know that we need to floss and brush after every meal and make time for regular checkups and cleanings. Neglecting these needs can lead to bad breath, decay, and even tooth loss. Proper dental health is just as important to our pets as it to us. Dogs are not able to take care of their teeth on their own, so they rely upon us to help give them proper dental care. As new products emerge, it has become easier to take care of our dog’s teeth. Now more than ever a little time taken each day can prevent dental problems and provide long-lasting benefits!
Warning Signs of Dog Periodontal Disease
The majority of dogs show signs of poor dental care by the age of three. So much so, that periodontal disease has now become the most common disease in dogs and cats. As bacteria develops in your dog's mouth, it can enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs, where it can cause infections and even permanent damage. There are several signs of poor dental health and oral disease that you can observe:
- Terrible breath is an indication that your dog's oral health needs attention.
- If your dog's teeth are weakened or sore, the pain can lead to trouble or difficulty eating.
- Excessively sore gums can show red inflammation or bleeding.
- Visible plaque and tartar buildup and should be monitored.
Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth
Taking care of your dog's dental health is similar to the way we take care of our own. Toothbrushes are available that are both safe and comfortable for your pet. Toothpastes come in a variety of flavors that will appeal to your dog. They may even come to find brushing their teeth as a tasty reward or snack. Using a gentle brushing motion will help remove food particles and help break down and reduce tartar and plaque buildup. For best results, you should brush every other day at minimum. Please note that you should not use human toothpaste when brushing your dog's teeth—fluoride is poisonous to dogs. If your dog has trouble acclimating to a toothbrush there are a few simple steps you can follow that should get them more comfortable:
- Get your dog used to accepting your finger in its mouth—try dipping your finger in peanut butter and rubbing it on his gums and teeth.
- When your dog is comfortable, you can proceed to wrapping your finger with a strip of gauze. Add peanut butter to the gauze and softly rub your dog's teeth and gums.
- Once they accept the gauze you can introduce the toothbrush. Add more peanut butter to the brush and allow your dog to lick from the brush.
- After your dog is used to the toothbrush, you can proceed with using the toothpaste.
Remember to be patient and keep it fun! Your dog should come around!
If your dog is still hesitant to accept a toothbrush, the good news is there are a number of new gels and additives you can give to your dog that will help improve their dental health. Gel based additives can be applied directly to your dog's teeth and gums. As your dog licks, it mixes the gel with saliva to coat their entire mouth surface. Comprised of natural ingredients and antioxidants, gel additives help keep breath fresh and fight the buildup of plaque. As with brushing, gels should be administered at minimum every other day for maximum effect.
Water Additives are also available that can be added to your dog's drinking water for every day benefit. Formulated with natural and holistic ingredients that help reduce bad breath and tartar buildup, water additives are an easy way to improve dental health without the need for a toothbrush. There are also supplements you can add to your dog's food that contain natural compounds proven to reduce plaque and tartar.
Dog Dental Treats and Bones
In addition to gels and water additives, something as simple as chewing on a bone or eating dental treats like Greenies can help improve your dog's dental health. Your dog's natural chewing motion will create a friction against the bone or treat and help scrape plaque and tartar from their teeth.
It is also recommended that you make trips to your veterinarian for regular checkups. Your vet can check for signs of oral disease and cleanings can help remove excessive or hard to remove plaque and tartar buildup.
Our pets depend on us for proper care. Taking a few of these tips to heart will take a little time now and save a lot of trouble later. Your dog will appreciate it!