Health conscious pet parents do so much to keep their fur babies vigorous.
All the annual checkups, holistic dog food, and evening walks don’t go unnoticed. However, there’s one oft-overlooked pillar of health that might; their teeth.
Become lax on your dog’s dental care, and you put them at risk of internal diseases in the kidney, liver or gums.
Fortunately, extending their lives might be as simple as watching for early warning signs and peppering in some preventative measures.
Work these tips into Fido’s healthcare routine to help keep your dog’s teeth healthy
Brush at home
By now you’re probably in the habit of brushing your teeth daily but still may not think to do the same for your pup.
The truth is, regardless of species, it’s important to disrupt plaque and bacteria before it has a chance to make a happy home in the mouth.
Next time you’re perusing the pet store, look for canine tooth supplies specially made for dogs. Make sure you invest in a brush that fits your dog’s mouth and read the label before purchasing toothpaste.
Though it may take some time to train, the more often you can brush your dog’s teeth the more likely you are to prolong their lives.
Once they’ve mastered ‘sit and stay’ here are some additional ways to help tackle brushing their teeth:
✓ Get your dog comfortable by steadily touching of the face and lips while they sit. Start on the outside snout area and begin gently stimulating the teeth and gums after a few days.
✓ Use a finger brush to pet the outside of the snout and lips. Make sure they can see it clearly so they can associate it with pleasant sensations.
✓ Give your pet sample tastes of the vet-approved toothpaste. Check to ensure they respond well to it and don’t display any signs of an allergic reaction.
✓ After about a week, lift the lips and begin to brush their pearly whites with as little pressure as possible. Slowly making your way from front to back after a few days. (It may take a few sessions to get them comfortable enough to fully scrub back molars.)
✓ Make positive associations by rewarding with a treat after. (Preferably of the fruit or veggie variety.)
Don’t skip professional cleanings
Where humans are beholden to twice a year dentist visits, dogs can typically go 1-3 years without springing for a professional veterinary cleaning.
Of course, the older your dog is, the more likely they’ll require annual professional cleaning to keep teeth intact.
That’s because senior dogs are at higher risk of tooth loss once the gums become inflamed or unhealthy. The more tartar that builds up, the more likely cavities and eventual tooth rot is to follow.
For an average, healthy pup the doggy dental appointments will help keep plaque manageable and can prevent complications like periodontal disease.
The trick is to get beneath the gum line. Even if you do your due diligence by brushing each day, there are some hard-to-reach areas that are likely to harbor bacteria. Overtime, this can cause the gum to recede, creating painful abscesses and, eventually, serious heart conditions.
Clean with quality kibble
What passes over the teeth is almost as important as what gets digested afterward. Meaning, good doggie dental health starts from the inside out. Feeding your pup a high-quality dry dog food has twofold benefits.
First, the crunch can physically dislodge plaque and tartar, preventing harmful buildup. High quality, all natural kibble also helps provide the balanced diet that’s essential for good tooth health. The more nutritionally complete the dog food, the stronger Fido’s teeth will be.
When buying pet food, be on the lookout for unhealthy ‘filler’ ingredients like by-products, cereal grains, and white sweet potatoes, which are much higher in sugars & starches. These only fuel potential issues.
Instead, make sure quality proteins, veggies and healthy carbohydrates like sweet potato or coconut meal are among the first few ingredients on the label.
Toys and treats for healthy teeth
The more your dog chews, the more ‘scrubbed’ their teeth become. Gnawing on vet recommended toys and treats can help make their mouth inhospitable for plaque and tartar.
When it comes to treats, dried meat is often best for keeping teeth clean.
Always read the label before buying bully sticks, and all natural freeze-dried treats, even if they appear to be legitimate. Even if it sounds gross, tendons, esophagus, and dried ears all make excellent teeth cleaning treats.
As for toys, most professionals suggest purchasing hard rubber or nylon only. They’re harder to destroy. Should your pet swallow pieces and parts of a less durable toy, it could cause significant damage to their digestive tract.
When in doubt, look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s Seal of Acceptance. It’ll back up product claims that have been proven effective.
Between the calcium deposits and the texture of the bone itself, you might consider adding large, uncooked cow bones to your treat circuit.
Just steer clear of manufactured chews or bones comprised of starches. Whether potato, corn or flour, they can default to a sticky consistency when wet with saliva.
The takeaway here is clear; a healthy dog starts with healthy teeth!