Everyone knows that taking care of our teeth is essential to keeping them healthy, but also helps to maintain our overall health. Concerning our four-legged best friends, dental health is also crucial with an entirely different set of practices and circumstances.
For one, dog teeth care is not as stringent as that of humans, as their teeth have higher resistance to most types of bacteria that would otherwise cause problems in human teeth. Dogs can, for instance, comfortably break meat bones with their teeth while you would lose yours if you tried it. Nonetheless, dog owners still need to take care of their pets’ teeth to avoid decay and infections, which can be quite expensive (and painful) to treat.
Correspondingly, here are 7 ways to achieve healthy dog teeth:
1. Regularly Brush His Teeth
Brushing your teeth is something your folks taught you when you grew your first couple of teeth and insisted that you do after every meal. Now, brushing your dog’s teeth on a daily basis may not be necessary, but it bodes well for his dental health to do it regularly.
To do that, first get your hands on some dog cleaning teeth products, namely a toothbrush, toothpaste and baking soda to wash the toothbrush with for enhanced protection against bacteria. Note that you shouldn’t use human toothbrushes but specially made doggy ones. Also, the best dog toothpaste has nice flavors and are made using dog-friendly ingredients such as baking soda and aloe.
Next, get your dog used to having a foreign object moving around his teeth. The difficulty level of this task ranges from ‘hard’ to ‘screw this’ depending on your dog’s breed and age. We recommend starting the training on a day when your dog is tired from walking or playing around as he’s more likely to sit still then.
Apply some paste on your hand and call him to lick it to get used to the taste for it to work. On the first day, only brush the front teeth for a few seconds, if your dog is feisty.
Gradually increase both the brushing area and time spent as the days go by. Brushing once in two days is a great idea and will keep your dog’s teeth in sparkling condition.
2. Get Dog Teeth Care Tips from Your Vet
Just like humans, dogs require regular dental checkups to diagnose dog teeth problems early enough and make interventions before things get worse. We recommend taking your dog for dental checkups at least once a year, even when everything seems okay. You never know, his teeth may be having cavities or other deformities that may not be visible to you but clear as day to a trained vet.
Similarly, during the checkup, the vet will check for symptoms of inflamed gums, broken or chipped teeth and even bad breath (yes, dogs have that too!). Your pet can’t speak, and hence won’t explicitly tell you about any issues he may be having with his teeth and gums.
A vet, on the other hand, will use their (presumably) broad knowledge of dog teeth anatomy to diagnose any problems early on, even before the main symptoms start showing. This will not only save you money but also save your pet lots of pain and discomfort. The vet will also furnish you with guidelines and instructions on ways to maintain healthy dog teeth and if you ask nicely, even a few tricks and tips as well.
3. Use Recommended Toys and Chews for Healthy Dog Teeth
Your dog needs to build dental strength and endurance safely and healthily. This means giving him real bones or hard objects to chew and play with doesn’t count.
Instead, get your furry friend some dental chews. They are designed with ridges that clean dog’s teeth and further contain ingredients that inhibit the formation of tar, which is harmful to your dog’s teeth.
If your dog is younger, you can get him some synthetic bones and balls to help his teeth develop chewing and biting strength. He’ll eventually graduate to real bones. There are lots of cheap dog teeth cleaning toys on major pet shops as well as online stores that would be useful to you, some going for as low as $4. While at it, remember to thoroughly clean and rinse every toy used by your pet after he’s through with it. This will keep germs and harmful bacteria away. Also, be sure to replace the chews and toys when you notice some holes or signs of wearing out for both sanitary and safety reasons. Little dogs could swallow broken rubber or plastic pieces.
4. Make Some Dietary Changes
Your vet, and a few doggie blogs as well, may tell you to brush your dog’s teeth every day primarily to avoid the buildup of bacteria and food particles. In fairness, however, that is not possible for most dog owners as brushing a dog’s teeth is a time and energy consuming affair, and it’s not like they don’t have work or school commitments. Fortunately, some foods work almost the same way as brushing in regards to combating the buildup of material on the teeth.
For one, give your dog fruit and vegetable snacks such as carrot and apple slices, pumpkins and pieces of squash. These foods contain varying amounts of proteins. Most importantly, they will scrape food remnants off your dog’s teeth.
They are also the best dog food for bad teeth, mainly since they won’t stick to his teeth. If possible, include some dried meat treats and uncooked bones which are particularly recommended since they have more nutrients and won’t break or splinter easily.
5. Add Some Crunchies
As anyone who has ever owned a dog would tell, plaque and tartar buildup are one of the key causes of oral problems among dogs. Common consequences include bone loss, painful infections, oral abscesses, and even loose teeth.
Hence, it is imperative that you take measures and steps to prevent any accumulation of tartar, plaque or food particles in your pet’s mouth. Otherwise, you’ll have a case of cute dog bad teeth which is not how it should be.
Vets routinely recommend giving dogs crunchy foods such as dry kibble on a frequent basis as a way of reducing plaque on the teeth. While further tests on the efficiency of crunchy foods in removing tar and plaque from dog teeth relative to ordinary foods are still being done, the general consensus is that they work just fine.
6. Keep Off Starches and Wet Food
We’ve already touched on the need to keep your dog’s teeth free of any rotting food particles as well as tartar. That is better achieved by mostly feeding your dog dry foods, dried meat chews, and uncooked natural bone which don’t leave any sticky particles on the teeth.
Completely cut out wet foods such as most commercial chews or any other type of food made from starches such as corn, potatoes, and rice. Such foods contain higher water content and are hence more sticky than crunchy foods.
You want your dog to only eat foods that can be washed off his teeth by water or just gentle brushing as opposed to those that stick like glue. Remember, the less food particles on his teeth, the fewer bacteria your dog has to contend with and the less he’s likely to develop oral diseases.
7. Be Alert Always
They say where there’s smoke there is fire. In this case, you need to always keep a watchful eye on your dog’s behavior and mannerisms with a view of noting any dental problems.
If you have a puppy, it won’t take you long to notice something is off as pups get a little cranky and aggressive when they have teeth problems. Signs of dental illness are hard to note in bigger dogs as adult dog teeth are stronger and adult dogs are arguably more pain-tolerant.
Nonetheless, here are the most common signs and symptoms of dental diseases that you should be on the lookout for:
- Bleeding or irritable gums
- Bad breath
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty when chewing meat or harder foods
- Abrupt change in eating patterns and habits
- Red gums
- Signs of tartar (red-brown color) on the teeth
It is a well-known fact that dog teeth age faster than human teeth and some dogs may start experiencing permanent teeth loss while only 5 years old. While the aging process cannot be stopped or reversed, it can be made trouble-free by good dental care and a bit of common sense. The tips above are general pointers on how to achieve better oral health for your dog and are admittedly, not applicable for every dog alive. A visit to the vet is necessary for you to understand your pet’s dental situation before proceeding with the above steps.
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About the Author
Rachel Burns is a content writer from Dallas. She is a crazy pet lover who likes writing about animals, pets, health, and nutrition-related topics. Her goal is to help others competently take care of animals.