Dog Dental Hygiene
Have you started to notice an unpleasant odor when your dog comes in for a kiss? Or maybe you’ve noticed their once white teeth are turning a brown or yellow color? These could be signs of dental hygiene issues. Untreated dental issues can lead to a slew of other major health concerns like heart disease and infection, so it’s very important to maintain your dog’s gum and dental health.
The best course of action for any health issue is prevention. With a few simple actions, you can maintain the health of your dog’s gums and teeth and avert negative symptoms like bad breath and tooth pain before they even begin.
Regular teeth cleanings
Once your dog is 6 months old, they are ready to start having teeth cleanings from their veterinarian. The buildup of plaque and other organisms in your dog’s mouth can cause the same issues that people deal with. If not kept in check with regular cleanings, they can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and even the need for expensive tooth extractions.
In fact, dogs are more likely than people to have dental issues since they are not brushing every single day. And just like people, our dogs need routine dental exams and cleanings every 6 months to a year. Try scheduling your dog’s cleanings around the same time as yours to make it easier to remember.
Dental cleanings range in price depending on a variety of factors. The average price is typically around $200, but if your dog’s cleaning requires anesthesia, it can get up to $1,000 or more. While this might seem a bit pricey, it is much cheaper than the possibly thousands of dollars it could cost to extract a tooth if your dog ends up having painful tooth decay. Many pet insurance companies will include dental cleanings as part of their coverage, so it’s worth looking into if you plan to keep up with your dog’s dental exams.
Just as it is for people, it’s much more cost-efficient to pay for routine cleanings than it is to ignore the issue until after it’s progressed into a serious problem.
Taking your dog for routine cleanings is the core part of a great dental hygiene plan, but there are plenty of easy things you can do at home to keep things fresh and clean as well.
Most dogs love to chew. It’s second nature to them. And even though we don’t want our dogs to chew on everything, chewing on certain things actually helps clean your dog’s teeth and should be promoted.
A large, thick bone, like a cow knuckle or a marrow bone, is a good chewing option. You can pick them up at a pet supply store, and sometimes even from the butcher at your local grocery for a very affordable price. The bone rubbing on your dog’s teeth as they chew scrapes off a lot of the built-up plaque and debris. Just be careful not to give your dogs any smaller or thin bones that might splinter, as this could be a choking hazard. Also, keep in mind that if your dog is a strong chewer, a natural bone might not be the best choice for them, as they might chew too hard and crack a tooth.
If natural bones aren’t right for your dog, there are now many dog toys made specifically for dental hygiene purposes. These dental toys are usually made of a rubbery material that won’t cause injuries, and the special grooves and ridges in dental toys are perfect for getting around your dog’s teeth and scraping them clean. Added bonus: they last longer since they are reusable. You definitely won’t have to fight your dog to practice this form of dental hygiene—it’s by far the most fun!
Don’t forget to brush
Just as yours do, your dog’s teeth need frequent brushing. While it might be a struggle at first, most dogs get used to it and some even begin to enjoy the toothpaste treat they receive. You should ideally brush your dog’s teeth every day, but even every few days will be a noticeable improvement. It’s the best way to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy and clean in between vet appointments.
A special toothbrush and specially formulated dog toothpaste should always be used for at-home cleanings. You can pick these items up at any pet supply store. Never use human toothpaste on a dog. What is safe for us to eat is not necessarily safe for our dog, and some of the ingredients in human toothpaste could be dangerous for your dog if accidentally ingested.
On days when you don’t brush, a dental treat is another great way to keep teeth and gums healthy. The texture of our specially formulated Dental Treats rubs the plaque from teeth and gums, and the ingredients neutralize bacteria growth to prevent bad breath. Plus, dogs love the beefy flavor.
Supply high-quality food
If you ate nothing but sugar and junk food, you would probably expect that to be reflected in the health of your teeth. It’s common knowledge that sugar causes dental decay in humans. The same is true for our dogs. If you feed them food that has a low nutritional value it will negatively impact their overall health, including their teeth.
You should aim to feed your dog foods made with whole ingredients that you recognize. Carrot sticks are a dog-approved snack that promotes healthy teeth. When selecting dog food, try to avoid food full of fillers and sugars, and instead look for added calcium to build strong teeth and antioxidants that build your dog’s immune system. There are multiple dog food brands on the market that target dental health, but always be sure to check that the food you choose is formulated to have the ideal ratio of fats, carbs, protein, and fiber needed for your dog’s specific health needs.
If you follow these simple steps, you’ll lay the groundwork for optimum dental hygiene, including a set of strong pearly whites and puppy breath for life.