How to look after your dog’s teeth
It’s a daily occurrence for us, we wake up brush our teeth, floss and swirl our mouths with mouthwash and then repeat it all over again before bed. Looking after our dental hygiene is important to us, but what can we do to make sure our companions get that same level of oral care?
Reports show that over 80% of dogs over the age of three have some form of gum disease, vets and pet owners alike are expressing their concerns – who can blame us! Not only that, but it can get dangerous - pretty fast, with diseases like Gingivitis spreading to our friend’s organs which can be very worrying indeed.
Dental surgery isn’t cheap either, so, we are sure that we can all agree that prevention is better than cure. As a pet parent, you’re responsible for staying on top of this on behalf of your dog – getting into a good routine should hopefully help prevent trips to the vets and being aware of the signs can certainly help you take any corrective action.
Signs that your dog needs a better dental routine
Our companions don’t just rely on their mouths for eating and for drinking, they also use them to pick things up, investigative, groom and most importantly share loving kisses with their humans. So, it’s really important that we help them to remain healthy and to recognise the signs that something may be wrong, sooner rather than later:
A dog’s teeth are not much different from a human, so if you think that your pet’s teeth are starting to discolour, it’s time to get them checked out by your vet.
• BROKEN OR LOOSE TEETH
Some dogs eat or chew things they shouldn’t, such as rocks and hard sticks, so it’s important to regularly check for any broken or chipped teeth.
Gums should be nice and pink, but plaque and tartar can begin to cause irritation and even bleeding gums if they’re not checked out.
• BAD BREATH
Dogs have an unfortunate reputation for having bad breath - as an owner you will notice if it’s worse than normal. If you haven’t changed their diet recently, and it’s smelling like rotten eggs, this could indicate gum disease, which your vet will be able to diagnose.
• EXCESSIVE DROOLING
Some dogs are just droolers, but if it’s starting to become more noticeable, this could be an indication of something wrong inside their mouths.
• LACK OF APPETITE OR A CHANGE IN EATING HABITS
Just like us humans, dogs can go off their food if they’re feeling ill, or if it’s causing them pain to eat. Visit your vet if you notice a loss of appetite, or changes in your dog’s mouth – the experts are best placed to investigate and establish what the cause is.
How to brush your dog’s teeth
This is where your friendly pet specialist down at your local pet shop comes in handy, we recommend popping down there and having a chat about what dog friendly toothbrushes they have and how they can help your companion at different life stages.
We now need some toothpaste, but not human paste as this could contain cleaning ingredients that are not friendly to your pooch. Specialist toothpaste is quite often flavoured too, so our friends find them more palatable and possibly (at a push) even enjoyable!
Before we start brushing It’s best to introduce the toothbrushes to your pet as a treat, so they get used to the taste and don’t see it as a negative interaction. We think it’s best to do the cleaning in the evening once they have finished eating for the day. This should help with removing bacteria and keep damage such as decay and periodontal disease at bay.
Gently lift your dog’s lip to expose the outer surfaces of their teeth and gums, then begin to brush, like you would if you were brushing your own teeth. Focus on the outer surface, making sure to reach the back upper molars and canines, as these teeth will tend to build up in tartar quickly. Many dogs won’t allow you to brush the inside, but if they do, continue to be gentle.
Once you have finished, make sure to reward your dog with some play and praise so they can associate the activity with something fun. When you’ve got your dog into a daily routine, it will get a little easier, this will not only help prevent the plaque build-up but also help you to spot any of the early warning signs listed above.
Other tips for keeping your dog’s mouth healthy
Of course, we recommend looking to your dog’s dish for extra support when it comes to your dog’s health and dental care. Just like us, it matters what they eat. We want to ensure that the diet choice includes all the nutrients and vitamins that your pooch needs for healthy teeth, such as cranberries. As always, it’s best to avoid food made with by-products and cereal grains, as these can stick to your dog’s teeth – opt instead for food made from a mixture of meat and vegetables – just like Symply!
You may find treats on the market that are designed to help brush your dog’s teeth, however these will not stand up to the brushing action; so, this will still need to be done. There are healthy choices you can make too, like using more dry food than wet so that that the wet doesn’t sit around the top of the teeth, and instead the dry helps to ‘brush’ the bacteria whilst your companion is feeding.
It’s also advisable to avoid treats and food with a higher percentage of refined carbohydrates, as they lack the enzyme meat contains which helps break down food molecules and of course, just like us, avoid sugary treats!
If you’re looking for toys that also have dental benefits, the best are larger rubber toys as they don’t splinter, have a bit of give so they’re not too hard on their teeth, and don’t collect debris that could chip your dog’s tooth.
*The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified pet health provider with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s health*