Does your dog have bad breath? Are their teeth clean? We take a look at the importance of proper dental care for your dog and share some tips to help ensure their mouth stays clean and healthy.
Statistics suggest that over 80% of dogs have some degree of dental disease by the time they are 3 years old. Your dog can’t tell you when he has a toothache, so it’s essential that you take steps to keep his teeth clean. While your veterinarian does play a role in keeping your dog’s sparkly whites in good health, there is much you can do at home to prevent dental disease.
CARING FOR YOUR PUPPY’S TEETH
When you bring your new canine family member home at 8 weeks of age, he’ll have a full mouth of sharp baby teeth. There isn’t anything you need to do for these teeth, but it’s a good idea to get your pup used to having his mouth examined and his teeth cleaned. Make a game of opening his mouth, looking at his teeth and giving them a gentle rub with a soft toothbrush.
His temporary teeth will start to fall out at around 4 months of age and by 7 months he’ll have all of his permanent teeth in place. This is when you need to get serious about dental care, because these teeth need to last him for the rest of his life.
DENTAL CARE FOR ADULT DOGS
One of the first indicators that your dog’s teeth need attention is that his breath smells bad. As his dental disease progresses, he may drool and paw his mouth, and he may have trouble eating.
There are a number of things you can do to keep your dog’s teeth and gums in good condition.
- Brush your dog’s teeth every day, just as you do your own. However, don’t use your toothpaste as he may not like the flavour. Dogs can’t spit so he’ll need to swallow the lather and this can make him feel queasy. You can use a soft small headed toothbrush to clean his teeth, or you can use a finger toothbrush. This is like a small silicon finger stall with bristles. Doggie toothpaste will taste more pleasant for your dog and is less likely to froth and lather.
- Anti-Plaque Additives. Aquadent is a liquid that is added to your dog’s water to reduce the growth of oral bacteria and slow the development of plaque. It’s important that you use it exactly as directed, because it contains xylitol. This can be poisonous to dogs. Plaque Off is another anti-plaque additive that can be added to his food to help to keep his teeth and gums healthy.
- Bones and Chew Toys. Raw bones were once considered the best way of keeping your dog’s teeth clean. These days, veterinary dentists believe that bones are dangerous as they can fracture teeth and do more harm than good. You can still give your dog chew toys such as Nylabones, and treats such as rawhide or Greenies. These will help to physically remove plaque and tartar from his teeth.
- Veterinary care. Your home care will help to prevent plaque and tartar from accumulating on your dog’s teeth but it won’t get rid of what’s already there. This is where your veterinarian can help. Ideally, they should examine his mouth and clean his teeth with an ultrasonic scaler every 6 months. It won’t be possible to thoroughly check his teeth and gums without a general anaesthetic, so he will need to spend the day in hospital for his exam. While he is asleep, your vet can x-ray his mouth if they are concerned about problems with his jaw or the roots of his teeth. They can also clean under his gum line where your toothbrush won’t reach.
A HEALTHY MOUTH MAKES A HEALTHY DOG
Dental care for pets has advanced significantly over the last few years and your dog can enjoy similar treatments to those available to you. Root canals and crowns are now a regular part of veterinary dental care. With the right home care and support from your veterinarian, your dog will enjoy a clean healthy mouth and fresh breath.