When your dog smiles at you, are his teeth clean and his gums healthy? Or, is he showing signs of dental disease, just like 85% of dogs over 3 years old? It's easy to care for your dog's teeth and prevent tartar accumulation, gingivitis and the loss of teeth.
Step 1: Start early so your pup gets used to you looking in his mouth. Make it fun for him, and reward him with a game or a treat when you're finished. If you do this, then you won't be met with resistance when he is older.
- Don't use your personal toothpaste.
- Reward your dog when he does well.
- If you can't brush, try an oral wash or special rawhide chews
Step 2: Brush his teeth with a doggie toothbrush and toothpaste. Ideally, this should be done twice daily, but life is often hectic and that may not be possible. Do the best you can, but aim for at least 4 times a week. The toothbrush you choose should have a small head with soft bristles. You can use a baby's toothbrush or you can buy a brush specially designed for dogs. You can even purchase a toothbrush that fits over your finger. This is extremely easy to use. Make sure you reach those big back molars!
Don't use your own toothpaste when you brush your dog's teeth. He won't like the taste, and he won't like the lather, both of which will make it more difficult for you to get the job done.
Step 3: If your dog just won't let you brush his teeth, no matter how hard you try to convince him that it's fun, then there are alternatives for you. Oral rinses are available that kill bacteria and help to prevent bacterial growth and the accumulation of plaque. Some are applied directly to your dog's teeth, which may not be ideal for you, however others are added to his drinking water. There are also special dental rawhide chews that will help to keep his mouth healthy.
You can also feed your dog a prescription kibble that is specifically designed to clean his teeth as he chews.
Step 4: Just like you do, your dog needs to visit his dentist twice a year for a proper examination, and a clean and polish. Your vet will need to give him a general anesthetic to do this so he doesn't wriggle around and to make it easier to reach the teeth in the back of his mouth. Don't be surprised if your vet suggests x-rays. This is the only way to check the roots of your dog's teeth and to make sure there are no cavities or abscesses that you can't see.
What about bones? Can you give your dog bones to keep his gums and teeth in good condition? According to the Food and Drug Administration, bones are dangerous for your dog. They can cause fractured teeth, and they can become stuck in his gastrointestinal tract. Specialist veterinary dentists support their view and recommend that you don't give your dog any bones at all.
When you get into a routine, it doesn't take too long to brush your dog's teeth every day. Couple this with the occasional dental chew and regular veterinary care, and your dog's teeth will sparkle.