Here's the Bottom Line of Maintaining Your Dog’s Dental Health

Here's the Bottom Line of Maintaining Your Dog’s Dental Health

by Melody Keilig
Do you brush your dog’s teeth every week? Can you spot the difference between healthy gums and the early signs of gum disease? We know talking about dental health isn’t exhilarating, but your dog’s overall health depends on you. Check out these crucial doggie dental tips!

If you haven’t started taking your dog’s dental health seriously, now is the time to ensure they are receiving proper care to prevent diseases and health risks associated with poor dental care. 

Taking your dog to the veterinarian is the best first step to learning about their dental health. Your dog’s vet will examine their teeth and gums to check for any swelling, discoloration, or unusual smells. This method can be done at home, but it’s helpful to learn from the best before conducting dental exams on your dog yourself. 

So, once a week, check your dog’s teeth to make sure they don’t have early signs of a dental issue. Their gums should be pink and the teeth should be white, but don’t worry about slight discoloration due to staining from food and medications. 

If your dog’s gums are white, red, or swollen, it’s a sign of dental disease. Other symptoms to look out for are loose teeth, cysts under the tongue, tumors on the gum line, and loss of appetite. Contact your vet and set up an appointment as soon as possible so they can diagnose the problem. 

The effects of dental disease in dogs can be devastating and can cause chronic pain after years of buildup plaque, yellow tartar, and bacteria. All of this buildup can cause infections, inflammation, life-changing pain, and disease. 

How can you prevent these symptoms of gum disease in the first place? 

The best thing to do is brush your dog’s teeth three to four times a week with toothpaste specifically made for dogs. Never use human toothpaste for dogs because it could upset your dog’s stomach because they often contain ingredients that are toxic to animals. 

If your dog has never had their teeth brushed, you may have to coax them into it. The best way to ease them into letting you near their teeth is to massage their lips in a circular motion for 30-60 seconds once a day. Massage the area for a week, or until your dog seems comfortable with their mouth being touched. Proceed by making the circular motion on their teeth and gums to ensure they are comfortable, and then practice the same thing with a toothbrush made for dogs. 

Your dog’s dental health is affected by so much more than whether or not they get their teeth brushed every week. Giving your dog a well-balanced diet and taking them out for walks will keep them healthy. 

Tools to keep those pearly whites, pearly white.

To further help their dental health, picking up a package of greenies will keep your dog’s teeth clean and their breath minty fresh. These dental chewing sticks are highly recommended by vets and available at most veterinarian offices. 

Removing plaque from your dog’s teeth is vital because infections can spread from the mouth throughout their entire body. Bacteria thrive under their gumline, so infections typically begin deep in the root of the tooth and the jaw. These infections can affect your dog’s organs, like their heart and kidneys, so dental health is crucial. 

Even if an infection doesn’t become fatal, your dog may need to get the affected tooth extracted which isn’t a great time for anyone. Plus, you shouldn’t need to worry about the high price of that vet bill for a preventable problem. 

Canine dental health goes beyond brushing their teeth, as well. You want to also make sure you’re not giving your dog hard toys to chew on because these can break your dog’s teeth if they are a big-time chewer. To prevent cracked or fractured teeth, get your dog soft toys to enjoy or supervise your dog if they are chewing on hard nylon toys to ensure they aren’t chomping down too hard. 

But certain objects for chewing should be avoided due to the damage they can cause. Rawhides have become the subject of debate over whether they are beneficial or detrimental to your dog’s dental health, but it depends on how much they chew and what their teeth can handle. 

Unless they’re a larger breed with bigger teeth, older dogs probably shouldn’t be chomping on rawhide. But, it’s up to a case-by-case basis, so supervise your dog and make the decision of giving them a rawhide yourself. If your dog is a smaller breed with tiny teeth, it’s best to avoid rawhide because it can chip or crack their teeth. 

If your dog is a chewer and needs something hard to chomp down on, try bully sticks as a great alternative to rawhide. Bully sticks are rich in protein, all-natural, and don’t contain the chemicals found in rawhides that can cause digestive problems. They also prevent tartar and plaque buildup on dogs’ teeth. 

For light chewers and dogs with tiny teeth, cow ears or pig ears are an excellent alternative to rawhides. Plus, when rawhides become a soggy, small clump, it becomes a choking hazard. 

When deciding which harder toys are safe to give to your dog, you can look for veterinarian-approved toys by the Veterinarian Oral Health Council. Or, you can do the vet test by feeling the dog toy you want to buy. If it’s hard enough where you think it would hurt if it hit you in the knee, it’s probably too hard for your dog’s teeth. 

Your dog’s dental health doesn’t have to be a difficult task. All you need is a basic understanding of what to look out for when inspecting your dog’s teeth and gums.

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