Why is my Dog’s Dental Health So Important?
Did you know that dental problems are the most commonly diagnosed health condition in all dogs over the age of three? It’s therefore important to ensure your dog has great dental hygiene and put things in place to keep their teeth healthy
Dogs suffer from a wide range of dental problems. Dog’s are very good at hiding and coping with dental pain, which is why it is very important that we pay attention to the condition of their mouth and teeth.
Dental disease is caused by plaque, which hardens to form tartar (brown/yellow hard substance on the teeth). The tartar bacteria irritates the gums leading to painful infections. Gingivitis is inflammation (reddening) of the gums and the gums are likely to bleed easily. Gingivitis in dogs can be treated, but if not treated it will lead to periodontitis which is not reversible and leads to bone and internal organ damage, tooth decay and loss.
Now we know the far-reaching dangers of dental disease, what indications should we be looking out for?
• Bad breath
• Gum colour change
• Swollen or bleeding gums
• Plaque build-up
• Tartar build-up
• Irregular gum line
• Excessive saliva production
• Blood in saliva
• Blood in water bowl or on chew toys
• Dog finds it difficult to chew
• Reluctant to play with chew toys
• Dog is hesitant to eat
• Loss of appetite
• Oral sensitivity and pain
• Wobbly teeth or tooth loss
What can I do to improve my dog’s dental health?
How to establish a good dental hygiene routine with your dog Ideally introduce teeth brushing as a puppy so that your dog gets used to being handled and sees this as normal activity. It is recommended that you brush your dog’s teeth once a day. It does not take ages just a few minutes.
What is normal for my dog? Know what is normal for your dog and check your dog’s mouth regularly to look for any changes from the norm. To check your dog’s mouth gently lift your dog’s lip and gently move from front to back looking at the gums and teeth, both top and bottom. Be aware of any mouth odour whilst doing this. Most dog breeds should have nice white teeth, pink gums, and hardly any smell from the mouth.
When should you see your vet for dental evaluation? If you are ever concerned about your pet’s health you should contact your vet for advice. Always ask your vet to check your dog’s mouth when you visit them to catch any changes in oral health in the early stages. At least have a dental check once a year, ideally twice. Your vet will also tell you if you are cleaning your dog’s teeth correctly.
Choose the right tools for the job • A good quality doggie toothpaste. Don’t be put off by for example a beef flavour toothpaste; we are not cleaning our own teeth, it is for the dogs benefit and these taste delicious to dogs! • A Soft doggie toothbrush or finger cot Never use human toothpaste as it is toxic to cats and dogs.
Introducing your dog to a toothbrush and toothpaste successfully Put a little bit of doggie toothpaste on your finger and rub it very gently on your dog’s gums to get them used to the idea.This will allow them to get used to the taste of the toothpaste for the first few days before you start introducing a toothbrush.
How to brush your dog’s teeth? Put a pea sized amount of doggie toothpaste on the brush and push it in to the bristles (otherwise it will just slide off). Now lift your dogs lips up and rotate the brush lightly love the teeth and gums on one side of the mouth. Then repeat for the other side of the mouth. There is nothing wrong with letting your dog lick the brush after brushing.
Should you use Dental chews for your dog? You should give your dog a well-balanced diet which includes some treats and chews. But don’t rely on dental chews as your only means of looking after your dog’s oral health. Check the ingredients in the dental chews to help you decide if it is an appropriate chew for your dog or not, they are highly calorific.
Chewing Rawhides / chew toys / rope toys to help clean teeth? These are good for your dog to chew, they help keep them mentally stimulated, helps reduce stress and boredom and exercises their jaws. A word of caution do not leave your dog alone with rawhide chews as they are a choking hazard so if you do give them, check their ingredients and always make sure they are supervised.
Looking after our dog’s teeth is an important part of preventive health care. We only need to invest a little time to make a huge difference to both our dog’s oral hygiene and their general well-being.