Most dogs show signs of gum disease by the time they reach the age of three, and as a result, they may be at risk for some of the same problems that chronic infection can cause in people, such as heart, liver, and kidney disease. That’s why canine dental care is vital to your pet’s overall health.
Pets don’t typically show that they are in pain from dental disease; in fact, your dog can have a mouth full of abscessed teeth and still seem fine. And that’s the main reason why people should be concerned about dental problems in pets – it hurts them.
8 Tips for Good Canine Dental Care
1. Take your dog for regular exams and cleanings. Good oral care doesn’t begin and end with tooth brushing. It should also include regular dental exams, including X-rays and a professional cleaning under general anesthesia. The goal is to maintain oral health and the function of the teeth, while keeping the pet pain-free.
2. Start canine dental care early. If you’ve got a puppy, now is the time to begin brushing. But don’t worry, even pets in their teens can learn to love having their teeth brushed, but be sure to proceed slowly.
3. Brush gently and gradually. Begin by putting a dab of toothpaste on your brush and let them lick it off. Then try touching the toothbrush to your dog’s teeth and then brush for a few seconds. Take a month or two to introduce your pet to this new habit. When your dog is ready for regular brushing, raise their lips to expose teeth and gums and then brush from the gum line to the tip of the tooth. Don’t open your pet’s mouth, as this can lead to panic and struggling.
4. Use pet-specific toothpaste. Toothpastes for humans contain certain types of fluorides and detergents that are meant to be spit out after brushing. Your dog will swallow toothpaste, so choose a product meant for pets; they are available in a variety of flavors.
5. Use a pet-specific toothbrush. Talk to your veterinarian about the best toothbrush for your dog. Avoid finger brushes if you have a smaller dog; your finger is too big to be a comfortable fit for your pet’s mouth. And if you have more than one pet, get one for each of them to avoid spreading germs.
6. Brush in back. Canine dental issues are often most severe in the back, upper teeth, so it’s most important to brush the outsides of the teeth that are there.
7. Chew on this. Dogs benefit greatly from chewing every day on something that helps keep teeth clean.
8. Make tooth brushing fun and rewarding. Before and after brushing, praise, pet and play with your dog. One of the best reinforcements is to brush your dog’s teeth just before a meal. To remind yourself, put your pet’s toothbrush near his food supply.
While you might not notice signs of dental disease because dogs hide most dental pain, you will notice the significant change in your pet when oral problems are finally addressed. Your precious pet will act younger, more playful, and be more active.
Your dog is your best friend. Return the favor and make sure your dog is healthy and pain-free. Regular canine dental care is a great way of showing your dog how much you care. If you have questions regarding your dog’s dental health – or it’s time for a regular checkup – call our office today to schedule your next appointment.