Regular walks, good food and lots of affection. There are certain things that every owner knows makes their dog happy, but does a regular dental routine or cleaning dogs’ teeth make your list?
Why is dental hygiene so important for dogs?
Eating a favourite meal, investigating his or her surroundings and communicating with an owner are all in a day’s work for your dog’s mouth. For this reason, your dog’s mouth will come into contact with lots of bacteria each and every day. While a set of dog’s teeth is stronger than a set of human teeth, they still need care and attention to remain white and pearly.
Generally speaking, a dog with poor dental health will be less happy than a dog with healthy teeth. The reason? Bacteria associated with poor dental health can cause pain, discomfort and unpleasant medical conditions, meaning that activities your dog usually loves such as playing fetch, or eating a favourite snack will not be pleasurable anymore. In more severe cases, dogs whose dental health has been severely neglected can lead to other health conditions. This is why cleaning dogs’ teeth is so essential. Since dogs don’t have the ability to use a toothbrush (as far as we know!), it’s up to the owner to provide the extra care needed to keep their pet’s mouth healthy.
Your dog’s daily dental routine
- Brush teeth – if you’re wondering ‘how often to clean a dog’s teeth?’ or ‘when to clean a dog’s teeth?’ then you’re probably not alone. Ideally, you’ll want to clean your dog’s teeth every day. Try to clean at the same time every day so that your dog becomes used to the process. By rewarding your dog with a small treat afterwards, your pet will be more likely to accept the routine.
- Give dog chews to clean teeth – cleaning dogs’ teeth every day isn’t always necessary. If brushing is difficult for you because your dog is against the idea or you simply don’t have the time to brush every night then you can always buy your dog specially made dental chews which can be chewed and consumed daily. While not as effective or comprehensive as a brushing session, they will help reduce a build-up of plaque and therefore remove harmful bacteria from your dog’s mouth.
- Good nutrition and suitable foods – It goes without saying that providing a healthy and balanced diet for your dog will contribute to better dental health and should accompany cleaning dogs’ teeth. It’s also worth noting that dry food is better than soft food so if your dog is suffering from a dental issue, it may be best to stick with dry food. Kibble that is crunchy is better for your pet’s oral health than soft food. The reason for this is that soft food is more likely to stick to the teeth and cause decay over the long term.
- Visit the vet regularly – As part of your dog’s dental routine, visit your vet on a regular basis. In fact, every time they have their scheduled check-up, ask your vet to check their teeth to ensure they’re healthy.
Spotting the signs of poor canine dental hygiene
Dogs generally aren’t known for having minty-fresh breath. However, if the smell of your dog’s breath is particularly bad, then it’s almost definitely time to get a dental exam from the vet.
If you suspect your dog has a dental condition, there are several signs to look out for.
- Bad breath – The most obvious symptom of poor dental hygiene is acrid breath. If your dog’s breath is offensively bad such that you can’t bear to be near to your pet, then there’s almost certainly an oral condition which needs investigating as soon as possible. Read tips on the causes of bad breath and dealing with bad breath here.
- Inflamed gums – Not cleaning dogs’ teeth can lead to a condition known as gingivitis. Red and inflamed gums is caused by bacteria that is left in the dog’s mouth from food stuck in between teeth. The bacteria normally gathers under the gum line around the roots of the teeth and can, if left untreated, result in tooth loss and may affect your dog’s well-being.
- Plaque and calculus – like humans, your dog’s teeth will build up a collection of plaque over time. If left untreated, this will harden to form tartar. Plaque carries bacteria which can damage tooth enamel while tartar can lead to receding gums or gum disease.
- Swollen jaw – if there is an infection in your dog’s mouth then an abscess will form. The resulting swelling of the jaw will be visible either under the eye socket (upper jaw) or close to the neck (lower jaw). If the abscess becomes large enough, it will burst and pus will be evident. Cleaning dogs’ teeth regularly should prevent most cases of abscesses.
- Trouble chewing – If your dog is frequently having difficult chewing, is dropping food or is eating on only one side of his mouth then you should check your dog’s teeth and gums thoroughly. If bacteria has rotted away teeth, or affected the health of your dog’s gums, then it will be extremely painful to chew.
By cleaning dogs’ teeth regularly, most owners can prevent serious dental issues and maintain a great level of dental hygiene for their pet.