Dogs use their teeth every day to chew and enjoy their food, but unlike humans, they can’t brush their teeth after every meal or visit their dentist twice a year! Dog dental health relies on the responsible dog owner to take certain steps to ensure that a dog’s teeth remain intact and healthy throughout their lifespan.
Regular tooth brushing is an essential part of dog dental health. The formation of placque on a dog’s teeth, a combination of old food particles, saliva and bacteria, can easily accumulate. Although placque is soft at first and easily removable with a tooth brush, if not attended to on a regular basis, it can turn hard and brown on the dog’s teeth, sometimes causing gum infections and eventual tooth loss thanks to bacterial infection.
Get your dog into the habit of having his or her teeth brushed. Pick a time when both you and your dog feel relaxed and not hurried. Start by stroking your dog’s muzzle with your finger, then adding a little toothpaste, letting the dog sniff that, and gently brushing the teeth with your toothpaste-lined finger. Once your dog is familiar with that motion, you can graduate to using a soft toothbrush, which should be lined with a little bit of toothpaste. Move the brush in gradual circular motions to remove all accumulated placque. You may only be able to do one section of teeth at a time before your dog gets fussy, but be patient and come back to the brushing routine as often as necessary until you have brushed the placque away from every tooth. Praise and reward your dog for being a good patient during each toothbrushing exercise.
Be sure that your dog has a diet that includes dry food that is good for his dental health, requiring quite a bit of chewing, which keeps the gums and teeth healthy. Provide your dog with such chew foods as rawhide treats, pig ears, dog biscuits and chew bones that willl increase dog dental health by giving your pet hours of tooth and gum exercise time, helping to naturally keep placque from building up on their teeth and gumlines. Owners should learn how to clean their dog’s teeth safely.
There are a number of dog dental health products on the marketplace, including dry food formulas designed for dental health, as well as additives that can be placed in their waterbowl to help promote good dental hygiene.
If your dog exhibits any warning signs such as persistent bad breath, bleeding gums, broken teeth or drooling, make a veterinary appointment as soon as possible. Poor dental hygiene in a dog can lead to bacterial infections in other organs such as the heart, so it’s important that your dog receive proper medical attention if tooth problems or decay can’t be solved with brushings, diet or chew toys.
Dog dental health sometimes requires professional teeth cleaning while under anesthesia. This may involve the application of antibiotics for a few days prior to the procedure.
The ultimate responsibility for dog dental health is in the hands of every dog owner, who owes it to their pet pal to take the necessary steps to keeping both teeth and gums healthy and vital.