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Improving Your Dog’s Dental Health For Life

25 15:25:40

Improving Your Dog’s Dental Health For Life

As dogs age, many of them fall prone to the effects of a lifetime of dental hygiene neglect, which can lead to a range of problems. Starting early with a good dental hygiene regime for your dog is important, and can go a long way to preventing later issues that can have a range of negative affects on your dog’s overall health and wellbeing. The concept of preventative care for the dental health of dogs is a relatively modern concept; up until around ten or fifteen years ago, it was highly unusual to take any special steps to care for dog’s teeth. Dental problems and bad breath in the dog used to be accepted as a common and normal part of dog ownership; but this did dogs something of a disservice, and is not something that should be considered as ok.

Bad breath, gingivitis, gum disease, rotting and painful teeth and roots can all affect dogs just as they can people, and discomfort and pain of these types are not conditions that most of us would be willing to tolerate untreated! Your dog is no different, and the responsible dog owner will of course do what they can to prevent problems of these types from arising in the first place, as well as being willing to seek help and treatment for dental issues from the vet if needs be. If you want to make sure that you are doing what you can to keep your dog’s teeth and mouth healthy and fit for life, read on to find out more.

Start as you mean to go on!

When you have a puppy or young dog with shiny white teeth and good oral health, it can be difficult to see any incentive for paying special attention to their teeth. But preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid problems in later life, and can help to minimise the likelihood of your dog suffering from tooth decay, bad breath or gum problems as they get older. It is never too late to start a dental care regime with your dog, although the younger you can get your dog used to this, the easier and more effective it will be.

Brushing your dog’s teeth

The idea of brushing a dog’s teeth may seem rather strange upon first consideration, but why not? We know that brushing and caring for our own teeth is important for avoiding expensive dental treatments and painful procedures, and your dog is no different. There are a range of special dog toothbrushes available that are specially designed to clean the surface of your dog’s teeth, and also a selection of palatable canine toothpastes to use with them as well.

Most people view the combination of the brushing and the toothpaste as key to keeping teeth clean and the mouth healthy, although actually, it is the brushing itself that offers the greatest benefit, and this can even be performed without toothpaste. If your dog really will not tolerate having his teeth brushed however carefully or slowly you approach the process, then you can use toothpaste on its own, although this is not ideal. Enzymatic toothpastes for dogs contain active ingredients that work to break down bacteria and plaque on the teeth, so even if you cannot convince your dog to allow you to brush his teeth, giving him a dollop of an enzymatic canine toothpaste is better than nothing!

You should brush your dog’s teeth or at least give him some toothpaste every other day if possible, and incorporate it into your dog’s regular routine.

Feeding for optimum dental health

How and what you feed to your dog can, in the long run, have an effect on how healthy their teeth and gums are. Dry food such as kibble is thought to be better for the teeth than wet food, which is often higher in sugar and also more likely to stick to the teeth and attack them for longer periods of time. However, feeding a dry food only diet is not suitable for all dogs, and there are a range of good reasons for many owners to feed a wet diet, or a combination of both feeding styles.

Regardless of whether you feed wet or dry food, try to ensure that your dog food is not high in sugar, which can of course be harmful in the long term for your dog’s teeth.

Any foods or treats that are low in sugar and have an abrasive affect on the surface of the teeth can help to keep your dog’s teeth clean, such as raw bones and fibrous vegetables such as broccoli, sweet potato and squashes. You can even buy special dog treats that are intended to have an abrasive affect on your dog’s teeth, or feed a special form or dry dog kibble that is designed to improve dental health. Usually, dental care kibble is harder and more dense than regular dry food, and the pieces will be larger. This is to ensure that your dog has to bite each individual piece of kibble in order to eat it, which causes the dense fibres of the hard kibble to “brush” the teeth with every bite.

You can also buy supplements that can be added to dog’s water dishes, which are tasteless and odourless and can help to keep the mouth clean.

Your dog’s teeth and the vet

Every dog should undergo a dental check-up at least once a year as part of their annual health check and vaccination boosters, and this can help to identify the onset of any dental problems early on. If your dog is found to have gingivitis, severe plaque, rotten teeth or abscesses, he may require a specialist veterinary dental procedure to thoroughly clean the teeth, treat any problems and remove any loose or rotting teeth. This can often be prevented by instigating a good dental regime for your dog before a problem arises. Standard veterinary dental procedures are not usually covered by pet insurance (other than if they come about as the result of an accident) and so not only can preventative care help to keep your dog healthy in the long run, but it can also save you money.

Talk to your vet or a veterinary nurse if you need any further advice or guidance on how to take care of your dog’s dental health.