Dogs and Dental Care

We have written a lot of blogs about how to keep your dog healthy and happy but there’s one
area that is often overlooked by well-meaning owners: dental health. It’s not hard to
understand why so many dogs suffer with dental problems. Cleaning their teeth isn’t easy,
many people don’t seem to think it’s something dogs need as much as people, and a dog’s
mouth, even one you know, can be a scary place to go poking around with instruments. It’s no
surprise then that about 80 percent of dogs over the age of 3 have some level of oral hygiene
problems. Dental hygiene is a key part of keeping your dog healthy and happy and there’s no
reason it should be as difficult as you might think.

First, there is a lot you can do to keep your dog’s mouth clean even before you begin to think
about brushing. A dog food that is balanced and right for your breed is imperative. It’s also
important to make sure it’s a food they have to work on chewing to get down. When dogs
chew, they produce more saliva and the gnawing action helps keep their mouths clean. If your
dog is gobbling up food so fast that he barely even chews, making this change is a super easy
way to get back on the right track.

Speaking of gnawing, there are all kinds of chew toys and treats that encourage that behavior in
dogs. Again, a treat that a dog simply gobbles up doesn’t do anything for dental health. But the
right kind of treat will not only help them keep their teeth clean, it will actually keep them
engaged and happy for longer too. Raw bones can work great for this, but some powerful biters
can shatter them and injure themselves in the process. Check with your local pet store to see
what options there are for your breed.

Now, let’s get to brushing; the thing you and your dog probably like least. Most vets will
recommend that you brush your dog’s teeth once a day. That might be asking a lot, but you
should at least try to do it several times a week. Only a few minutes of brushing will make a
huge difference and if you make it a regular process, even the most squeamish of dogs will soon
get used to it and not give you any problems.

When you go to the vet for regular checkups, make sure he or she checks your dog’s teeth.
They will be able to tell you about problems or concerns they have and often notice things
before you do. Poor dental hygiene is about so much more than just avoiding bad dog breath.
Just like in humans, gum disease has been proven to be linked to heart disease in dogs so
keeping teeth clean should be a basic part of any hygiene routine you have.

If you follow all of these steps diligently, you may never need to worry about your dog’s teeth.
Of course, sometimes things can get more serious. If that’s the case, many veterinarians offer
deep cleaning in their office. This is more expensive and often involves anesthesia but when
your dog’s health is at stake it may be the only option.