Responsible dog owners think carefully about what food their dog is eating, how much exercise they are getting, and whether they are up to date with their preventative medicines and treatments. However, one element of doggy care that is often overlooked is their teeth and their dental health.
Just like humans, dogs rely on their teeth to bite and chew their food. However, dogs also use their teeth as tools – both to pick up and carry objects as well as to play games. They are also a valuable line of defense if they are ever in a situation where they feel threatened.
Just like us, poor dental health in dogs can also have severe consequences for the longevity of their teeth and their overall health and wellbeing. Periodontal disease is extremely common in dogs, affecting around one-third of dogs before their third birthday. Severe periodontal disease can cause sore, red, and bleeding gums, severe bad breath, infections, and tooth loss. Studies have also linked periodontal disease to some potentially life-threatening health conditions including diabetes, heart problems, kidney disease, and even some types of cancer.
By making sure your dog’s teeth are well cared for, you can help preserve their teeth and their general health for many years to come.
Here are some easy ways in which you can improve your dog’s dental health.
Yes, you heard right! Your dog can benefit from a proper oral hygiene routine too, and this includes brushing their teeth as often as you can get them to tolerate it - ideally once per day. Brushing removes the sticky plaque from their teeth that is responsible for dental decay and gum disease. You can use a human or pet toothbrush, but you should only ever use a canine-approved toothpaste as some human varieties contain toxic substances that could make your dog sick.
Your veterinarian will be happy to give you tips on how to get your dog used to tooth brushing, but most learn to tolerate it pretty well, especially if you start as early on as possible.
Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, and it’s also one that can benefit their oral hygiene. This is because chewing stimulates saliva production, which helps to wash away bacteria and food debris that can cause decay and gum disease. Chew toys also provide friction that acts in the same way as a toothbrush and helps to remove plaque and debris from your dog’s teeth. Speak to your veterinarian if you need advice on choosing the right chew toys and treats for your canine pal.
Dogs are omnivores which means that they can eat meat and plant-based products. In fact, some dogs will eat anything at all – even things that aren’t food! However, some doggy diets are better for their teeth than others. Try to always feed your dog a nutritionally balanced diet that isn’t too high in carbohydrates. This is because carbs and sugars increase your dog’s risk of dental decay.
While at-home care is crucially important for your dog’s dental health, they will also benefit from having regular dental check-ups with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can assess the condition of their teeth and make any recommendations for care or treatment if they are required. Your veterinarian can also perform a professional dental cleaning. Carried out under general anesthetic, a professional dental cleaning penetrates more deeply than brushing at home or cleaning the surface of your dog's teeth while they are awake (so-called "anesthesia-free" dental cleanings) since your dog will be asleep for the duration. This will ensure that your dog’s teeth and mouth are as clean as they can be, minimizing the risk of damage, decay, toothache, and other health problems.
If you would like more advice on improving your dog’s dental health, please contact our veterinary team at Claws & Paws Veterinary Hospital in Pearland, Texas by calling (281) 997-1426 today.