Regular brushing of your dog’s teeth can help prevent oral diseases that can spread bacteria to other parts of their body. Specialty formulated foods and professional cleanings can also help control plaque and tartar.
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2. Be Aware: Dogs Rarely Show Signs of Dental Pain
Even with a cracked tooth or periodontal disease that damages gums around the teeth, your dog would probably eat normally, wiggle happily at your return home, and overall act like the same dog you know and love.
Your pet may be in chronic pain, but you wouldn’t know it. Why? Dogs have evolved to hide such chronic pain. Their animal instinct is not to show signs of weakness.
"In my experience the No. 1 sign of periodontal disease is no signs at all," says Brett Beckman, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC, DAAPM, a veterinary dentist who practices in Florida and Georgia.
"The number of patients I see a year that come in because there is pain is less than 5%," says Beckman, while more than 80% of dogs have periodontal disease by the time they're 3 years old. "I really want to get that point across," says Beckman, "there are almost always no signs at all" of dental pain.
Dental Care for Dogs: Tips and Tricks
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You put a lot of thought into keeping your dog healthy: quality food, routine checkups, plenty of fitness. But what about his teeth?
Oral hygiene is an often-overlooked but important factor in your dog's overall health. If he has a toothache or sore gums, he's dealing with pain and stress that you may not even know about. Left untreated, bacteria introduced by the problem can enter the bloodstream and affect his heart, kidneys or liver. Veterinarians report that an estimated 85 percent of dogs over age 4 are suffering from some form of periodontal disease, a painful oral condition that can lead to tooth loss and infection. The good news? All of these problems are preventable with regular dental cleanings and professional checkups.
Like regular grooming or the daily jaunt outside, dental care should be something your dog comes to expect each day. But it won't happen overnight most dogs take some time getting used to someone poking around in their mouth. Most owners need to warm up to the idea, too! Ideally, introduce dental care when your pooch is still a puppy. But don't stress if you just realized that your adult dog's teeth need some attention. Just take a slow, patient approach, and remember that lots of love and treats go a long way in winning him over.
Most experts agree that daily brushing is ideal, but if that's unrealistic, aim for three to four times per week. And don't be an overachiever: If your pup's patience only lasts for you to brush half his teeth today and the other half tomorrow, that's fine. Just remember which half you did each day!
Next up, we'll tell you what products you'll need and how your dog can help clean his teeth without even knowing it.
How to Care for Your Dog’s Teeth
You brush your dog daily, take her out for walks, and feed her once or twice a day, but there’s an important part of your dog’s health you could be neglecting. We’re talking about his or her teeth.
It might not seem like a big deal but caring for a dog’s teeth is an essential component of their overall health and wellness. Think about it. You carefully consider what you feed your dog to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs but what about the body parts she uses to chew that wholesome food? A dog’s teeth are a vital part of their health.
If you aren’t sure how to take care of your dog’s teeth or, it’s been a while since you got her to open up and brushed them, here’s how to take care of puppy teeth.
Examine their mouth
This is a good starting point so you’re aware of any black tartar or film that’s building up on her gums, as well as the color of her teeth and yes, noting doggy breath! Poor dental hygiene and plaque in particular can lead to gum inflammation, rotten teeth, jaw health problems, as well as heart, kidney and liver disease.
Use the right tools
Make sure you have pet toothpaste and a dog toothbrush when you want to start brushing his teeth. Your dog might pull away because he doesn’t know what you’re doing or he’s afraid. Let your dog taste the toothpaste first and use a calm voice to reassure him throughout the process.
Apply the dog toothpaste to the brush and lift the outside of her lips to gently start brushing her teeth. Take your time. Focus on the back teeth and molars, too, since plaque tends to build up there. Many dogs won’t let you clean the inside of their teeth so don’t worry about that. Let the dog dentist handle that in the future!
Reward your dog
After you’re done brushing, spent some time cuddling your pup, playing with her or just giving him attention. He’ll associate the experience with positive rewards and hopefully it’ll help make the experience easier each time.
Give your dog a treat that cleans their teeth
Be sure to give your dog a daily treat dental treat that promotes good dental health. When used daily in addition to brushing, dental chews can help clean those hard to reach places in your pup’s mouth to ensure they get a total mouth clean. This will help with plaque buildup and gingivitis – while also helping with that doggy breath problem and keeping your dog busy and happy!
Schedule a dental cleaning
Your dog should have a dental cleaning every six months to a year. They might be able to go longer if their teeth and gums are well maintained and in good shape. A professional dental cleaning and visit provides a thorough brushing and the vet will have a better idea of any problems that are brewing. He or she will also let you know what needs to be done about them. Learn more about the average cost for teeth cleaning here.
Taking care of your dog’s teeth daily with brushing and dental treats can help keep your dog’s teeth healthy, reduce dentist visits, and prevent some life-threatening diseases.