By Laurie Darroch
February is National Pet Dental Month, so I thought now would be a good time to discuss the importance of regular doggie dental care and offer some tips. Caring for your dog’s teeth is an essential aspect of responsible pet ownership, yet oral health and proper dental hygiene are sometimes overlooked.
Preventive dental care is not only necessary for dogs, it can save you money in the long run. Inadequate dental care can cause severe health issues and result in a shorter lifespan for your beloved pet. Tartar buildup and periodontal disease can contribute to heart, liver and kidney problems. Sore and injured teeth can be a symptom of underlying health problems as well.
Here are 7 things you can do that will help you care for your dog’s teeth.
If a dog is not used to someone poking around in his mouth, he may be resistant to having his teeth examined. If you start young with mouth and teeth exams on a regular basis, it will become a part of the normal grooming and care routine.
Be Patient Yet Persistent
If you have an adult dog that hasn’t had much in the way of oral care, it’s not too late to start (and better late than never, as they say). Love and lots of patience will help make examining your dog’s teeth something you can do calmly. If you are anxious and impatient, you’re more likely to meet with resistance from your dog, and even withdrawal or fear. Giving your dog some CANIDAE treats when he’s compliant will help to create a positive association. It may take many attempts to get your dog used to the idea of getting his teeth cleaned.
Start with simple movements such as holding his muzzle, or gently touching his mouth or teeth. Don’t try a new activity like this while you or the dog are under duress. Pick someplace quiet to check and clean your dog’s teeth. He will be less likely to associate the activity with something frightening, strange or negative if you take it slow and stay calm. You may have to start with just a couple teeth and work up to cleaning all of them in one sitting if your dog is resistant. Don’t forget to praise and reward!
Sometimes our dogs can help care for their teeth without even knowing it. Obviously, your dog cannot brush his own teeth, but most canines do love to chew and gnaw on things. Take advantage of that natural tendency and provide your dog with chew toys and bones that help to clean their teeth. You may find that dog chews specifically designed for cleaning teeth are a helpful addition to canine dental health care.
Choose softer toys with bumpy textures that get around their teeth as they gnaw. Don’t choose chew toys that are too small and present a choking hazard, or toys that are too big for your dog to get into his mouth comfortably. Check the chew toy’s packaging for size limitations and suggestions to help you choose.
Pick the right toothbrush for the comfort of your dog. Dog toothbrushes come in many styles ranging from fingertip brushes, to those angled to get inside your dog’s mouth easily. You can also use a soft toothbrush designed for human babies, but it may not work as well as one designed specifically for dogs. Whatever style of toothbrush you choose, make sure it is soft enough to not injure your dog’s mouth or teeth.
You’re not going to be able to get your dog to spit and rinse. A dog is more likely to lick and eat the toothpaste. Which means you need to use toothpaste that is safe for dogs. Human toothpaste can contain abrasives or chemicals that are dangerous for dogs, so be sure to get toothpaste specifically made for dogs from your pet store.
If your dog is still resistant to brushing, or you want to do a quick job , there are dog safe dental wipes available that will help keep their teeth and gums clean.
Food and Treats
Feeding your dog a high quality pet food can help prevent problems with dental decay. Don’t feed your dog junk food. As with humans, inappropriate food can damage teeth. CANIDAE Grain Free dog food will not only help maintain a healthy body, but healthy teeth as well.
Pet ownership includes tasks that are not always fun, such as doggy dental care. However, with practice, patience, rewards and the right tools, caring for your dog’s teeth will become a regular – and relatively stress free – part of their routine. If your dog is showing any signs of tooth decay, bad breath or any other oral symptom, be sure to schedule a checkup with your vet.
Read more articles by Laurie Darroch