Heed these takeaways:
- Over 80% of dogs show signs of dental disease by age three.
- Signs of dental disease include bad breath, loose or discolored teeth, difficulty eating and pain around the mouth and face.
- The best way to prevent dental disease is to brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
- Dental treats and chews, special dental diets and regular vet check-ups can all help promote good oral hygiene.
The right diet, plenty of exercise, flea and worm control — we spend a lot of time ensuring our pups are as healthy as possible.
But there’s one aspect of canine health that many pet parents forget about: their teeth. You may be surprised to learn that dental hygiene is actually a crucial factor in your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.
But before you start frantically searching for your nearest pet dentist, don’t panic. Looking after your pup’s teeth is actually quite easy, and a little bit of effort will go a long way to ensuring perfect pearly whites.
Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay
Why is dental care for dogs so important?
Doggy dental health is crucial for a couple of reasons.
First, take a moment to think about just how important your dog’s mouth is to the way he interacts with the world. He uses it when eating, playing and doing a huge range of everyday activities. But if his oral health is compromised, your dog may experience severe pain or discomfort that could stop him from doing the things he loves.
Second, if left untreated, bacteria associated with dental disease can make its way into your pet’s bloodstream. From there it can spread to other parts of the body, including vital organs like the heart and kidneys, causing serious health issues.
Unfortunately, poor dental health is an all too common problem for our fur-babies, with over 80% of dogs showing signs of dental disease by the age of three.
Signs of dental disease
You don’t need to be a doggy dental expert to work out whether your pup’s teeth are in need of urgent attention. Some of the common signs of dental disease in dogs include:
Loose, broken or missing teeth
Yellowish-brown teeth that are discolored by tartar
Red or inflamed gums
Pain or discomfort
Reluctance or refusal to eat or drink
Bleeding from the mouth
If you notice any of these signs, take your pup to the vet for a full check-up.
How to look after your dog’s teeth
What can you do to keep your pup’s pearly whites in optimum condition? Check out these simple tips:
Brush his teeth. It might come as a bit of a surprise to learn that the number-one thing you can do to ensure good doggy dental hygiene is brush your pup’s teeth. Regular brushing (a few times a week) prevents the buildup of plaque, so make it part of your pet’s grooming routine from as young an age as possible. Just make sure you use a dog-friendly toothpaste, as human toothpaste includes ingredients that are toxic to dogs.
Give him dental treats and chews. Wander the aisles of your local pet store and you’ll see that there are many different dental treats and chews available. These handy products are designed to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth while he chews, and often contain special ingredients to help clean teeth and promote good dental health. Even better, they can also be a great boredom buster to give your pup something to do while you’re not around.
Get a check-up. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked for signs of periodontal disease by a vet at least once each year. This will be part of your pup’s annual or six-monthly health check-up, and will help ensure that any developing dental problems are detected early.
Check out special dental diets. If your vet notices signs of dental disease, he or she may recommend switching your dog to a food specially formulated to promote good dental health. These foods are designed to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar, clean your pup’s mouth and freshen his breath.
Practicing proper dental hygiene is an important part of caring for your pet, but the good news is that it’s hardly rocket science. By simply brushing your pup’s teeth regularly, giving him dental chews and monitoring him for any signs of dental disease, you can help your dog sink his teeth into a healthy and happy life.