Dog Dental Care- 9 Pro Tips You Should Know
This guide will introduce everything you need to know about dog dental care, especially some pro tips that every dog owner should focus on.
There’s a common misconception that dogs don’t need teeth brushing.
The truth is that dogs do need dental care equally as we need. Regular cleaning, checking for the plaque and tartar on their teeth need to become an important part of their daily routines. If you ask your vet for opinion, there’s no way that he’ll tell you that your dog doesn’t need teeth brushing.
However, since most dogs don’t get so thrilled with this practice, dog owners often choose different alternative tools and solutions. In the following lines, you will be able to find out some of the best tips for keeping your dog’s teeth healthy, white and shiny.
Dog Dental Care- Why is it Important?
When we talk about dog dental care, there is no way that some dog hasn’t experienced even a minor dental pain throughout its lifetime. Therefore, it’s advisable to think on time on how to prevent your pooch from developing different dental issues. Starting a daily dental care routine is definitely one of the first steps.
It includes brushing a dog’s teeth by using special dog toothpaste.
Using toothpaste for humans is not recommended since dogs have special needs and act very sensitive to different tastes. Human toothpaste is also rich in fluoride that is very poisonous to dogs. In order to make teeth brushing more attractive to your pooch, we advise you to buy dog toothpaste with meat flavor.
When to Start With Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth?
The best time to start with teaching your pooch to get used to teeth brushing is during the puppyhood. Adult dogs can act pretty uncomfortable and show even aggressive behavior from the moment they see that ‘strange cleaning tool’ in their owners’ hands.
Therefore, vets usually recommend starting with dental care from the 2nd month of age.
You should do that slowly by gradually increasing the time. The best tip is to first allow a puppy to sniff and lick the brush and a doggie toothpaste, and then to gently bring it closer to his mouth. Try to relax your puppy first by cuddling and telling some praise words.
Of course, you can’t expect that a dog will allow you to perform brushing from the first try. You’ll need a lot of time and patience to calm your pooch before he starts to feel completely relax.
When we talk about choosing a doggie toothbrush, you can choose a soft one that is usually bigger in size than human ones.
Symptoms of Dog Teeth Issues
Besides the fact that dogs can have tartar and plaque on their teeth, there are also many other teeth problems that dog can experience. Most dog owners think that a dog’s bad breath is usually the sign of an issue.
Well, it may, or may not be. There is a myth that some breeds are naturally predisposed to have bad breath.
The truth is that all dogs can have a more or less bad odor coming from their mouth. It much depends on the diet they eat and from bacteria that live in your dog’s gums.
Therefore, it’s advisable to take your pooch to see a dog dentist once a year. Of course, if you noticed any strange signs earlier, you should do that more often.
Other symptoms that point out to your dog’s dental issues can be problems with eating (loss of appetite), swollen, painful and red gums, bloody saliva, excessive nasal discharge, drooling, dropping food from the mouth and lesions in a dog’s mouth.
What is the difference between tartar and plaque on a dog’s teeth?
By talking about dog dental care, it’s very important to pay attention to the plaque and tartar. Plaque is an invisible layer of bacteria on a dog’s teeth, while tartar looks sort of yellowish. Otherwise called calculus, a dog’s tartar becomes visible due to lack of dental hygiene, inappropriate nutrition or hidden dental issues.
Causes of Dog Dental Issues
Luckily (or not), the cavity is less common in dogs than in people.
However, they can also suffer from other dental problems and some of them are periodontal disease, cleft palate, tumors or cysts in a mouth, broken tooth due to aggressive chewing, and misalignment of the bite and teeth.
From all previously mentioned health issues, periodontal disease is the most common one, and it affects both cat and dogs. It usually occurs from the dog’s 3rd year of life and is followed by painful and red gums, visible tartar, and jiggled teeth that eventually fall out. Since teeth mean a lot to dogs, it’s highly important to react on time.
The Role of Food in Dog Dental Care
It’s a well-known fact that our four-legged friends are naturally predisposed to chew on bones and dry food. In that way, they strengthen their jaws, teeth and facial muscles. However, opinions are divided.
That’s why one of the best choices for keeping your pet’s teeth healthy and strong is to feed him with dry food. Dry food will not only prevent from collecting plaque and tartar but will also make his teeth stronger.
On the other hand, we also know that there are dog breeds whose bellies easily become swollen and develop gasses by eating dry kibble food. It’s because dry food is usually rich in additives and artificial colors.
One of the breeds that show intolerance to commercial food is definitely English and French bulldogs. They are on a higher risk to develop food allergy so their owners need to feed them with raw or homemade diets.
Choosing the appropriate diet for your dog much affects his dental health. For example, giving him too much fruit snacks that are usually high in sugar and carbohydrates can not only cause diabetes but also make him experience painful gums and plaque. Vets say that every dog owner simply needs to know where the limit is.
Therefore, we advise you to check with your vet on how much fruits is your four-legged friend allowed to eat.
Talking generally, eating fruits is actually a very healthy and much better option than rewarding a dog with commercial treats. We don’t even have to mention that some fruits are rich in fiber and different antioxidants that are known for their skin and fur relieving properties.
There is also one magical fruit that whitens your pet's teeth. We talk about strawberries. Strawberries make yours and your dog’s teeth white and shiny! Note that eating too many strawberries is also not advisable, so, you can give them to your pooch 2 or 3 times a week. Another precaution is in case your dog is allergic to strawberries.
How to Clean Plaque and Tartar From a Dog’s Teeth?
Using dog chewing toys
One of the options can be buying different dog chewing toys that are made of flexible and durable silicone. Your dog will definitely like to chew on them especially in case you offer him a stuffed toy that you can fill with his favorite treats.
In that way, your furry pooch will not only clean his teeth but will also learn to spend time alone. Interactive feeding toys can also serve to teach a dog to work for his food. That’s how he will be able to develop both his intelligence and skills for searching.
Dog toys can actually be very useful when you need to leave the house and prevent him from chewing on home items. There are also dogs that are on a higher tendency to develop dog separation anxiety, such as companion breeds, so toys can really help them to occupy their attention.
For puppies, the teething phase is something very irritant and painful, and that’s the time when they need to chew and play the most.
Canine dental pads
It may sound weird, but canine dental pads can also do the work. When you don’t have enough time to brush your dog’s teeth or he just feels scared if it, dental pads are another solution.
Another great thing about them is that your furry friend will not be able to swallow any ingredient as he does with toothpaste. Canine dental pads are available in most pet stores and are completely harmless to use.
The best tip for doing it is to twist the pad around your finger and gently clean your best friend’s gums and teeth.
Buying dog dental treats
Let’s be honest! Dogs’ first love is definitely the food. So, that’s why we bet they will be the happiest by eating some tasty treats. Besides using dental bones, you can also try different dental sticks. In case you own an aggressive chewer dog, you need to be careful and prevent him from choking.
You can also choose between sticks with bacon, beef, chicken flavor and many other tastes to make them more attractive to your dog. For dogs’ that show intolerance to flavors and gluten, there are also dental treats that are free from previously mentioned additives.
Dog dental care water additive
One of the easiest ways for keeping your dog’s teeth clean from tartar, plaque and preventing from gum disease presents the following ointment that you need to add into your dog’s water bowl.
However, we also advise you to first check with your vet whether your pooch really needs this product.
How to Naturally Help a Dog with Swollen Gums?
In case you’ve noticed that your pooch is having swollen gums, then he probably suffers from a condition called gingivitis. It is the first stage of the dental issue called periodontal disease.
Gingivitis or swollen gums occur when there is a gum pocket which collects the food leftovers and overgrows to a bacterial infection.
When this stage already occurred, your vet will need to clean your dog’s gum pockets from collected dirt. The only way to completely do that is to anesthetize a dog. By performing a scaling process, cleaning, and polishing, your dog’s teeth will be then reexamined after a couple of weeks.
Your vet will also probably tell you to switch to BARF diet for your pooch. It’s true that dry kibble food can prevent dogs from having dental issues however, let us remind you of something.
Before your dog has been domesticated from his ancestor- the wolf, he used to hunt prey and eat raw meat and chew on bones. Dogs’ digestive systems are different from ours. Their stomach acids make them capable to digest raw meat and bones.
BARF diet (Biologically approved raw food) includes feeding a dog with crude and raw food. However, you need to always be careful about the place you buy meat. Meat needs to be completely healthy, fresh and kept in a freezer. So, this type of food can be a natural solution for preventing our four-legged friends from having dental issues.
Homemade dog food can also include putting raw and boiled ingredients. For example, boiled rice with raw chicken meat, raw carrots, and slices of apples can present a tasty meal for your Frenchie.
Dog Dental Care - Things to Avoid
- In order to escape bleeding of gums and teeth fractures, it’s not advisable to give a dog to chew on hard and dry bones. Raw bones are a much better option because they are softer and more attractive for a dog to chew.
- Avoid food that is rich in by-products, grains, and excessive fat.
- Do not buy chew bones made of starches because they are more sticky and stay on your dog’s teeth and gums for a long time.
Since our dogs can’t tell us what bothers them, we are the only ones who need to notice any sudden change and behavior in our dogs.
Observing their body language, regular checking on their gums, and taking them to the vet is the best prevention from experiencing dental issues. The key for providing your dog a painless and happy life is in the owner’s responsibility.