Well the answer is yes! Much like how your take of your own oral health (or so we hope you do) you should be doing the same for your dog!
Maintaining good oral health can help prevent other problems with your pets organs and save you costly vet bills down the road and not to mention preventing bad breath! Good Oral health involves regular brushing, dental exams, and professional cleaning. When you think about this you take care of the health and function of your teeth why wouldn’t you do the same for your furry kids? Many dogs experience some form of periodontal disease, this can be caused from a plaque build up. Periodontal disease is when the gums are inflamed and even recede. This becomes a dangerous because bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream and access the heart, liver, brain, kidneys and lungs causing the infection or malfunction.
When we don’t take care of our teeth we run the risk of losing them, same goes for dogs. This can be very painful for your dog. If you have ever had a toothache you know the pain it can cause. Your dog can also have pain associated with their teeth and although they may not be able to tell you or show you tis can lead to immense pain for your poor pooch.
The good news is that cavities are not as common in dogs as they are for humans. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to take regular care of your dogs teeth. In fact you should start taking care of your pooches pearly whites from the get go. Starting this routine from the time thy are title will make ti a lot easier as they age. if you haven’t started yet don’t worry you still can, it may just take some time and patience.
We aren;t saying you need to go full tilt and get out the electric toothbrush, in fact you should probably start slowly. putting a little bit of dog toothpaste on your finger and letting your dog lcm it off is a great place to start. It is very important to note the you should NEVER use human toothpaste as many toothpaste contain fluoride and this can be toxic for dogs. Make sure you use dog specific toothpaste (check with your vet for brand recommendations)
Once your dog has been introduced to the toothpaste you can start with gently putting the paste on their teeth, and eventually work your way into gently brushing their teeth This may take a month or two. When your dog is read for brushing try to brush from the gum lime to the tip of the tooth. It is important to get the back teeth as well. This is important as it is a common area for dental issues to occur. Don’t try to hold the dogs mouth open rather raise the lips to explode the teeth. Much like toothpaste there are also dog specific toothbrushes that are designed with specific bristles that wont hurt the dogs gums, even the softest human toothbrush may cause irritation, again check with your vet for recommended brands. Also make sure you have a toothbrush for each your dogs as you don’t want to spread germs. Would you want to share a toothbrush with your brother or sister? YUK!!!! Your dog doesn’t either LOL
So how often should you brush your dogs teeth? This can be dog specific but at least a few times a week, if not daily. Also your dog will most likely need a dental cleaning appointment at some point. These appointments can be expensive if there is a lot of work to be done so the better the job you do now at keeping the teeth healthy, the less expensive and potentially painful this will be for your dog and yourself in the future. It will also help your pooch keep those chompers so he can enjoy all his fave food and treats.
A few tips when it comes to keeping your dogs teeth healthy:
Bones and Chew toys can help clean teeth! there are many great brands of chews and bones that help strengthen the gums and teeth as well as reduce plaque and tartar build up. Plus its a treat for your dog!
Dry food can be better for your dogs teeth than wet food as it wont stick to the tooth surface as much as wet food. If you are feeding wet food make sure you are brushing often.
Make brushing fun, make sure you praise your dog for good behaviour when you are done brushing
Choose a paste with a flavour they like- unlike human tooth paste there seems to be a wide range of flavours for your dog! Try a few samples out and see which one they like the best, this may even make them want to have their teeth brushed….
Know when to consult with your vet- there are specific oral health related symptoms a dog may exhibit that may require the attention of a vet. Here are a few examples:
Pawing at the face or mouth excessively
swollen, red or bleeding gums
change in eating patterns
REALLY bad breath (not the normal dog breath smell)
growths in the mouth
of yellow coloured build up long the gums.
If you see any of these symptoms go see your vet. But also make sure to see your vet for a teeth checkup every 6-12 months (maybe part of an annual checkup)
Happy Brushing, Happy Smiling!