The Top 10 Dental Care Tips for Your Dog

When it comes to dental care for dogs, the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is right on the mark. As an animal rescuer, I am continually surprised at the number of owners who regularly have their dog’s nails trimmed but ignore the pet’s dental care.
Why Dental Care for Dogs is Important

Dogs today live significantly longer than they once did. According to PetEducation.com, most veterinarians now emphasize preventive care in addition to using state-of-the art techniques to diagnose and treat harmful conditions. They’re also seeing an increasing number of pets whose most significant health issues are dental problems.

All owners should realize that good dental care achieves more than ultra-white teeth in a dog. Dental problems like an infection can affect other organs in the body, among them the dog’s liver, kidneys, and heart, the Veterinary Information Network reports. In addition to the anxiety that occurs when a beloved pet develops serious problems, owners often find the treatment for the issues more expensive than the cost of preventive measures.

The Top 10 Dental Care Tips for Your Dog

Dental Care Tips for Your Dog

Many of the most valuable tips for dental care for dogs are practical steps that are fairly easy for owners to accomplish if they are willing to just take the time for them.

1. Know the hazards. Owners should realize that among the potential issues dogs face as they age are gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, proliferating gum disease, salivary cysts and canine distemper teeth, according to the ASPCA. Many of these are preventable with a dental care program.

2. Establish a consistent home care routine. Each dog is different and has evolving needs. An owner should ask the vet periodically what a dog needs in the way of home care. At a minimum, it should include daily brushing to remove food particles or pieces of rawhide. Whatever it is, it should be done consistently.

3. Think twice about chew treats. They cut the amount of plague and tartar in a dog’s mouth, but some are better than others. The healthiest ones are high in protein and fat but low in carbs.

4. Choose chew toys carefully. The harder ones also help clean a dog’s teeth. However, owners should avoid products that are so hard they might cause teeth to break. Rubber toys, ropes and tennis balls are ideal.

5. Use the correct food. Wet food is much more likely to stick between the teeth than dry food is. Most vets recommend a kibble food to help remove buildup on teeth. Dogs who eat only wet food need daily brushing and some chew treats for optimal dental care.

6. Conduct home exams. An owner should check a dog’s mouth weekly. This includes looking at the color and condition of the teeth and assessing the appearance of the gums, tongue and other parts of the mouth.

7. Use the appropriate home care technique and products. Over time, most owners discover what the dog tolerates best for tooth brushing, overall handling and response to treats as incentives. A child’s toothbrush at a 45-degree angle often is a good place to start. The toothpaste used should be formulated for dogs, who often prefer chicken and liver flavors. Products manufactured for humans can be harmful.

8. Schedule periodical health exams. Even seemingly well dogs need regular checkups. Vets check for dental issues during routine health exams.

9. Seek professional dental care. What this covers depends on the dog. Many require cleaning, scaling, polishing and/or chemical treatments two to three times a year. With severe gingivitis or periodontal disease, surgery and extraction might be required.

10. Treat emergencies and broken teeth. A broken tooth means an exposed nerve. This can create pain and a potential infection that can spread. A broken tooth should always be treated. The standard treatment is a root canal or an extraction.

The top 10 dental care tips for dogs represent a mixture of home and professional care. Each one is important to help your pet maintain optimal health through its mature years.