Dental care guide for dogs

Posted by Dr Dog. March 6th 2015.

Making sure your dog’s teeth are nice and healthy is extremely important for your pet’s overall health.

A good dog owner must remember that teeth and gums should be cared for and monitored closely in order to minimise the risks of illnesses and conditions related to poor dental health.

Dog teeth

The dangers of plaque

Just like our own teeth, dogs’ teeth can develop a build-up of plaque. Without sufficient care taken to remove it on a regular basis this build up can harden and form a substance known as tartar.

Without treatment, layers of tartar on the teeth can bring about an inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). This condition can lead to harmful bacteria entering your dog’s bloodstream, which can damage vital organs including the heart and kidneys.

To learn how to prevent this, check out our guide to brushing your pet’s teeth.

Preventing plaque build up

It’s vital that you brush your pet’s teeth. It only takes a few minutes every day, and is far easier than it may sound. Get yourself a dog-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste suitable for animals.

If they are a fussy hound, you may need to try more than one type of toothpaste before you find one that meets your dog’s approval. Bear in mind that most human toothpaste contains fluoride which is extremely poisonous for dogs so never use a product that is not designed exclusively for canines.

Over time they will become used to the process, so if they are a little unsure to start with, don’t worry. For the first few attempts have a treat to hand for when you have finished.
A double-headed brush held at a 45 degree angle is a great option and should allow for excellent gum line cleaning. Restrict the session to only a few minutes and gradually increase this as your dog becomes more comfortable with the practice.

Chews and toys
Provide your dog with natural chews and toys that have been designed to improve dental health. Luckily, chewing and gnawing are natural dog habits, so they’ll happily play with what you give them. Benefits of dedicated chew toys are not only related to dental health – they also keep jaw muscles strong, prevent boredom, and save other household items becoming makeshift playthings!

Dry foods
Regular dry food consumption can also help tackle plaque problems by scraping it away, so even if your dog mainly eats canned foods, it’s a good idea to provide the dry variety as well.

Signs to look out for

Always be on the lookout for the danger signals that can indicate deterioration in your dog’s dental health.

Bad breath is one of the most obvious side effects of many conditions but you should also keep an eye out for reddened or swollen gums and bleeding. You may be able to spot crusted yellow-brown build up on the teeth too while excessive drooling can be another giveaway that there’s a problem.

Uncomfortable teeth may cause your dog to eat from only one side of the mouth or drop food whilst eating and weight loss could be another warning sign.

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