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Why Is Your Dog’s Dental Health Important?

At A Glance

Taking care of your dog’s dental health can help reduce complications later in the dog’s life. Read on for some tips on how to properly take care of your dog’s teeth, top dog dental care products, and dental diseases in dogs.

Dental health is important for your dog because dental diseases can affect your pet’s other systems or organs.

If left unchecked, plaque can build up in the dog’s teeth and gums. Failure to prevent or address this can cause irreversible damage to the dog’s mouth and even its jawbones. Teeth could become loose, fall out, and develop cavities.

Gums could get infected and bleed. Severe dental diseases can also cause dogs extreme pain and discomfort. They will not only impact your pooch’s eating habits, but they could also leave them stressed. Dental issues could also make your pooch tense and even aggressive at times.

What’s worse is that untreated dental problems can cause more problems for your dog’s whole body. The bacteria in the plaque buildup could poison your pet’s bloodstream and spread to vital organs.

Medical community calls this spreading of bacteria bacteremia. It can cause damage to the dog’s heart, liver, kidneys, and possibly other organs as well.

To protect your pet’s overall health, you should incorporate good dental habits into their routine.

owner brushing the dog's teeth

Dental Care For Your Dog

Proper dental care for your dog involves the following key aspects:

  • Keeping teeth and gums intact and clean. A dog with healthy and pain-free teeth and gums will have good eating and sleeping habits.
  • Watching out for early signs, such as bad breath. Checking for halitosis can serve as a preventive measure. If your pet’s breath starts to smell, it’s probably time to do some brushing.
  • Preventing blood poisoning due to the spread of bacteria in the bloodstream. Protect your dog’s organs by keeping bacteria away from its bloodstream. Make sure plaque doesn’t build up in the teeth to stop bacteria from thriving.

Now that you know what to watch out for, it’s time we offer oral hygiene tips for your dog. Read on below.

 

Tips For Taking Care of Your Dog’s Teeth

There’s no big secret strategy to staying on top of your dog’s dental health. The tips we’re offering are very straightforward and don’t even need special requirements.

What’s needed instead is your renewed commitment to being as attentive as ever to your pet’s health needs. Dental issues can be easy to take for granted. But remember that small things that are neglected over time can snowball into bigger problems later on.

So prepare to take notes as we give you 5 tips for taking care of your dog’s teeth.

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Regularly

How Often Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

Well, many experts agree that the ideal frequency is two times every day. Of course, not all dog parents can stick to this schedule. Those with full-time jobs or those not always at home can probably manage a once-a-day routine.

Still, vets might recommend a more realistic three-times-a-week schedule, which should be enough to prevent plaque from building up. But note that for this frequency, the brushing session should be thorough.

What Time of Day Should You Do The Brushing?

For dogs, the time of day shouldn’t really matter. What matters more is their receptiveness to the activity.

Many dog behavior experts agree that the best time for brushing is when a dog is calm and comfortable. You know your dog better than anyone else on the planet. So you probably already have an idea when your pet is most relaxed. It could be just before bedtime, or immediately after a walk.

What Do You Use When Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth?

If it’s your dog’s first time, you can start with a soft cloth before shifting to a fingertip toothbrush.

When your dog is no longer a stranger to brushing, you can use a regular dog toothbrush. You should be able to buy one from the pet supplies store. You can use a regular toothbrush for people, but only one with soft bristles.

As for the toothpaste, never use human toothpaste. They can be harmful to your pet. Instead, buy dog toothpaste from the pet store.

How Long Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

If your dog is not used to the activity yet, you start with a few seconds. Then as your pet becomes accustomed to brushing, you can do it regularly for a minute or two.

Which Part of The Dog’s Teeth Should You Brush?

Most vets recommend brushing only the outer surface (the side facing the inner cheeks). The inner surfaces (facing the tongue) are less likely to have plaque buildup because the tongue cleans them.

Start from the back teeth and work your way to the middle. Then do the same thing for the other side.

Don’t forget to protect yourself against bacteria too. Always wash your hands when you’re done brushing your dog’s teeth.

checking dog's teeth

Check Your Dog’s Mouth Every Week

At least once every week, find time to thoroughly check your dog’s mouth for signs of dental problems.

What are the things you should look out for?

For teeth:

  • Check for a yellowish or brownish buildup of tartar
  • Any loose or broken teeth
  • Any missing teeth

For gums:

  • Signs of bleeding or dried blood
  • Yellow or brown tartar buildup on the gum line
  • Swelling or red-colored portions of the gums

For the mouth in general:

  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Any abnormal growth or tumor inside the mouth or on the inner cheeks
  • Frequent or excessive drooling (Note: Dogs drool more than usual if they have a toothache. When their mouth gets hurt or when they’re feeling pain, saliva production typically increases.

 

dog sitting next to his food bowl

Changes in behavior. Watch out if your dog:

  • Eats less
  • Lacks energy or enthusiasm
  • Isn’t sleeping well
  • Seems stressed and shows abnormal aggression
  • Whimpers while yawning
  • Touches or scratches its face or ears frequently
  • Sneezes more than usual
  • Frequently licks its nose

While it’s true that behavioral changes may not be caused by dental problems, there’s no harm in making sure. If you have doubts, it’s always a good idea to consult your veterinarian.

Choose Your Dog Food Carefully

Many dog experts agree that choosing dry food for your dog can promote better dental health. The main reason is that dry food is less likely to stick to your dog’s teeth.

On the other hand, wet or soft food can get stuck in the spaces between the teeth. If not removed in time, they can sometimes lead to tartar buildup and eventually, tooth decay.

What if your dog loves to eat wet or soft food? What you can do is try to mix it with dry food when serving it. You can also offer dry food after your dog has finished consuming the wet or soft food. The dry food should help scrape away any wet food left stuck in your dog’s mouth.

Still, this doesn’t mean that you can forget about brushing your dog’s teeth. Dry food will never be a good substitute for regular brushing habits.

Sure, those dry kibbles can help, but soft bristles remain the real secret to dental health.

puppy with its chew toys

Use Dental Chew Toys and Dental Treats

There are chew toys that are specifically designed to offer dental benefits to dogs. Not only do these toys help relieve boredom among our furry friends, but they can also help clean teeth.

But not all chew toys are safe for your dog dental health. To guide you, here are three features you must consider before buying a chew toy:

  • Softness. Soft chew toys are ideal for dental health because they won’t damage your dog’s teeth. You can choose a slightly elastic but tough material like rubber. You can also explore nylon makes that aren’t too sturdy.
  • Size. Chew toys that are too small can pose a choking hazard. Go for toys that won’t fit into your dog’s mouth. That way, you won’t have to worry about your pooch swallowing the toy.
  • Structure. Choose chew toy designs that won’t likely break into tiny pieces when played with. These pieces might get stuck in the dog’s teeth or be swallowed and cause digestion problems later on.

Of course, you also need to take into account how big your dog is. Chew toys that are okay for small breeds might be choking hazards for large dog breeds.

What about other dental treats that aren’t chew toys? Remember that the main difference between treats and chew toys is that the former is meant to be swallowed while the latter isn’t!

So when choosing dental treats, make sure they are:

  • Chewable, preferably long lasting enough to clean teeth and gums before being swallowed
  • Steroid free
  • Manufactured from organic ingredients

So based on what we’ve tackled above, your dog should probably stay away from the following chew toys:

  • Bones, antlers, or hooves
  • Nylon tennis balls (the tough material can erode the crown of your dog’s teeth)
  • Wooden sticks that may splinter into smaller pieces
  • Nylon chew toys that are too hard

dog at the vet

Visit The Vet For Regular Dental Checkups

Either due to laziness or busyness, we sometimes skip visits to the vet (often to our dog’s delight). But for the sake of your pet’s dental health, you might need to be more vigilant in showing up.

You might not know it, but dental examinations are supposed to be part of normal checkups. So be sure to ask your vet on your next visit.

If your vet detects dental issues, they can offer a routine cleaning procedure. This usually involves the removal of plaque buildup, as well as gum cleaning.

The frequency of routine cleanings may depend on the size of your pet. It’s always a good idea to ask your vet for the recommended frequency.

dog with toothbrush

Top Dog Dental Care Products

We already gave you some tips on proper dental care, and now we’re leaving you with a bonus section.

Here are some great dog dental health care products are available in the market.

Dog Toothbrushes

  • Fingertip toothbrushes
  • Bamboo or organic toothbrushes
  • Curved bristles
  • Dental rings
  • Dual-ended toothbrushes
  • Three-sided toothbrushes
  • Dental wipes
  • Sonic toothbrushes
  • Dental swabs

Dog Toothpastes

  • Oral gel
  • Enzymatic toothpastes
  • Organic or food-grade toothpastes

Dental Rinse For Dogs

  • Dog breath fresheners
  • Plaque sprays
  • Plaque powders
  • Oral care water additives

dog chewing his treat

Dental Treats (Edible)

  • Dental diets (kibbles)
  • Dog biscuits
  • Dog chews (chewable dental treats)
  • Rawhide (horsehide or cowhide)

Chew Toys (Non-Edible)

  • Flavored nylon chew toys
  • Chew balls
  • Hemp chew toys
  • Squeaker toys made of food-grade materials
  • Synthetic branch sticks
  • Rubber bones and chew toys
  • Teething pacifiers

doctor checking the dog's teeth

Dental Diseases In Dogs You Should Know About

As you might have probably grasped by now, dogs are not immune to dental diseases. More importantly, they need to be protected against dental disorders that could disrupt their daily lives.

As the pet owner, it’s your responsibility to know about diseases that could result from inadequate oral hygiene practices. Read on below to learn more about them and how they can be treated.

Gingivitis

This refers to a gum inflammation caused by plaque and bacteria. Gingivitis typically turns gums into red or purple swellings that can sometimes bleed. A common symptom is halitosis.

Treatment

It usually involves professional cleaning using anesthesia. After cleaning, a sealant is applied to the affected area to prevent the recurrence of bacteria buildup.

Vet checking the dog's teeth

Endodontic Disease

This is a dental disorder that occurs in the tooth’s interiors. It could be caused by injury, fracture, abnormal enamel development, and tooth decay. Endodontic disease can sometimes occur when dogs bite extremely hard objects.

Treatment

Options for treatment include performing a root canal procedure or a tooth extraction. X-rays are typically required to fully diagnose the disease and determine appropriate treatment.

Periodontal Disease (aka Gum Disease)

This refers to an infection of the periodontium, the tissue that surrounds a dog’s tooth. A common dog ailment, periodontal disease usually results from gingivitis. If the infection is not detected, it could cause damage to the tooth socket and destroy the jawbone.

Treatment

The vet will perform scaling of the affected tooth above and below the gums. This will remove plaque buildup. For extreme cases, tooth extraction is recommended.

dog sitting with a tooth brush

Just like us, our dogs deserve to live a life free from toothaches, bleeding gums and other health problems related to poor dental hygiene. There are five ways you can help ensure that your dog dental health gets proper dental care.
First, you have to establish regular brushing routines with your dog. Next, be consistent in checking your dog’s mouth for problems.

Make a conscious decision to buy dog food that can promote better dental health. Supplement your dog’s diet with a healthy helping of dental treats and chew toys. Lastly, never forget your veterinarian appointments, and make sure dental examinations are conducted.

Try to explore which dental care products you can buy for your dog. Dog toothbrushes and toothpastes are a must, while dental treats can make your dog and its teeth positively beaming.

Educating yourself about dental diseases in dogs can also serve as a preventive measure. Taking care of your dog’s dental hygiene can go a long way in ensuring its wellbeing.

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Paul Andrews
https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-andrews-172490189/

A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.