Just like we humans need to look after our teeth and mouths, not only for fresh breath but also for overall health and wellbeing, so too do our canine family members need to receive dental care.
Doggie dental care and oral hygiene can be easily overlooked – and often is – but it is a very important part of canine health and wellbeing…Not only do sore gums and toothache cause pain and stress, but untreated dental disease can introduce bacteria to the body which can affect the heart, liver, brain and kidneys.
Vets report that the vast majority of adult dogs over four years of age, and particularly senior dogs, experience painful periodontal disease. This can include gingivitis (gum inflammation), tooth cavities, plaque and tartar build up, and inflammation of the tooth sockets. These can be treated and prevented by having regular canine teeth cleaning and professional dental checkups.
What can you do at Home?
- Get your dog used to a dental routine from the time he is a pup. Be patient and approach the process slowly. Ideally, your dog’s teeth will be brushed daily, but being realistic, three times a week will do. It will take time for him to learn to cooperate! Get him used to having you handle his mouth.
- Give your dog size-appropriate chew products, as these help keep the teeth clean and in good condition by scraping away dirt and plaque. Rawhide and knucklebones are a good choice, and are gentle on a dog’s teeth, unlike harder bones which can be damaging.
- Crunchy dog treats are also enjoyable for your dog, and these also help to reduce build-up on his teeth.
- Artificial bones and chew toys can be great fun for your dog. Choose rubber or nylon, large enough for your dog that he won’t choke on it, and flexible as opposed to rock-hard. A bumpy or rough surface will be most effective on his teeth.
- Water additives are available from your vet for your dog’s fresh drinking water; these help prevent tartar formation.
- Dental diet products are also available from your vet and pet specialty stores.
Brushing your Dog’s Teeth
- Toothbrush – either a specific canine brush or a soft human toothbrush
- Toothpaste – use only a canine-specific toothpaste as dogs won’t spit toothpaste out; canine toothpastes are safe for him to swallow. Human products contain harmful additives that are not safe for doggie ingestion.
- Wipes – canine dental wipes can be a quick easy fix in the absence of brushing. Simply wipe his teeth and gums to remove excess food and bacteria
Take your time with your dog, only brush for as long as he is willing to cooperate, and make it a regular practice. Reward him each time you successfully brush, so that he associates having his teeth brushed as a positive experience.
At some point, your vet will recommend a professional cleaning. This is done at the vet, usually under anaesthetic. Be calm and positive about the experience and your dog will be calm as well.