Walking, feeding, and playing with your dog are what you probably imagine the most when thinking of your pup. Occasionally you have to think about taking them to the vet or boarding them when you’re gone.
But there’s one aspect of dog care that is often overlooked. Your dog’s mouth.
Up until a few years ago, mouth health for dogs wasn’t talked about except in the setting of a veterinary office. So what’s the big buzz about dog teeth cleaning now?
Unfortunately for dogs, their mouths function very similarly to human mouths. They are susceptible to decay, gum disease, and even loss of teeth when not properly maintained.
So what can be done? Read on to find out why dog teeth cleaning is so important, what you can do to prevent dental issues, and what to do if you haven’t kept up with your dog’s cleanings.
Dental Disease In Dogs
Just like a human mouth, dog mouths are prone to disease, decay, and infections. There are some misnomers out there, such as ‘hard dog food and treats will keep your dog’s teeth clean’ or ‘just give them dental chews, and it will be fine.’ Not only are these assumptions not accurate, but they can cost you the health of your dog.
The difference between a human’s mouth and a dog’s mouth is how the mouth health declines. For humans, it’s usually decay, gingivitis, and eventually, periodontal disease. A dog’s mouth typically skips the decay and goes straight to periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is virtually silent, until it’s not. By the time you see signs of periodontal disease (bleeding gums, bad breath, and more), it’s usually advanced. But don’t worry, with prompt treatment at your vet, your dog’s mouth can be on its way to healthy again.
Dog’s Teeth Cleaning
It’s hard to know what to expect when you take your dog to the vet for a teeth cleaning. The process is similar to how your dentist cleans your teeth. However, extra effort is needed to make sure your dog is comfortable.
A pet coming in for a cleaning will often be under anesthesia. This is for their comfort and the veterinarian’s safety.
Different tools, such as scalers and polishers, are used to remove plaque, tartar, and any other debris found. If your pet has loose or broken teeth, you may be asked to consent to their removal. Vets will also take this time to thoroughly check your dog’s mouth for any signs of infections or issues not seen on a previous examination.
Rest assured, your dog can live a long healthy life even if they are missing some teeth. In fact, it’s better to have unhealthy teeth removed than it is to keep them in their mouth.
Depending on the severity of dental issues, your dog may go home with pain medication and food instructions following their visit.
Prevention is vital when it comes to the health of your dog’s mouth. It’s not financially feasible to run to the vet every few months for a dog’s teeth cleaning. Luckily there are things you can do at home.
Brushing Their Teeth
One obvious way to prevent poor mouth health is to brush your dog’s teeth. Toothbrushes are available for dogs that are specially angled to reach their back teeth (where most of the food is chewed). Most bristles on a dog’s toothbrush are soft and don’t damage your dog’s gum line.
It’s normal for your dog to be unsure about getting its teeth brushed. There are some easy ways to acclimate them to the process. First, start out small. Show them the toothbrush and ease it into their mouths. Even if you can only brush one or two teeth at a time, it helps them get used to it. Gradually work up to the entire mouth, making it a positive experience. You and Fido will enjoy your nightly routine together in no time.
There are several different types of toothpaste for dogs, including meat flavors and peanut butter. Buy a few to see which one your dog likes best (that will help them enjoy brushing their teeth). Remember to never use human toothpaste for your dog because the ingredients may not agree with their stomachs.
There is merit in dental chews. They help to scrape your dog’s teeth in between brushings and keep their breath fresh. It’s important to note that dental chews are not a replacement for thorough brushing.
In the same way that dental chews help to clean teeth, so do chew toys. When your dog is chewing on objects, it brushes against its teeth to help remove build up.
Dog teeth cleanings and mouth health are not topics that come up in everyday conversation but are vitally important to your dog’s overall health. Not only can poor mouth health lead to pain and infections, but it can actually shorten your dog’s life.
Make sure that you’re taking steps to keep your dog’s mouth healthy and if you’re unsure of the best way to brush or the products needed, give us a call. You can always schedule an appointment for a thorough examination of your dog’s mouth and recommendations on how to keep them as healthy as can be.