By Emily Gantt
Published: 02/24/2021, edited: 10/25/2022
Keeping your pup's chompers clean is a tough task. Like humans, dogs can get cavities and gingivitis if their teeth are not taken care of properly. The good news is, you can avoid these toothy troubles with a few simple techniques. Below are the top 5 tips you'll need to maintain Fido's dental health and get rid of bad doggy breath too.
We know, brushing an uncooperative pup's teeth isn't the easiest task, but an ounce of plaque prevention is worth a pound of cure. Most woofers will fight while you're trying to brush so you may need to find a willing participant to help you hold Fido in place.
Now it's time to brush. Lift up the lip flaps and using a silicone finger brush or regular toothbrush and begin scrubbing the teeth. Make sure you brush the inside and the outside-facing portions of the teeth, paying close attention to the canines and molars. Your dog won't like it, but it has to be done. There's a myriad of doggy toothbrushes and pastes on the market. Avoid using people toothpaste for pups. Instead, use a yummy meat-flavored dog toothpaste to make the experience more tolerable.
Give your pup lots of praise and pets to encourage them to cooperate the next time it's time to brush. Vets recommend that you brush a dog's teeth at least 3 times a week, but twice daily is ideal. If your dog absolutely refuses to let you brush their teeth, try doggy dental wipes. They won't get everything off your pup's teeth, but they're better than nothing.
Anti-plaque powders are another option for pet parents looking to maintain their pup's dental health. These powders are typically made from dried seaweed and are meant to be sprinkled over your pet's meals. You can use these powders with either wet food or kibble to freshen your pup's breath and remove plaque. The powders are absorbed by the body and are released when Fido secretes saliva. Most anti-plaque powders are also formulated with vitamins and minerals to help Fido's teeth stay strong.
Dental sprays and drops aren't a replacement for brushing, but they are a great supplement to a canine's dental routine. Most canine dental sprays and drops can be put in the water bowl or applied directly to the teeth. These normally contain a mixture of mints, oils, plant extracts, and alcohols to clean your pet's teeth and freshen kibble breath.
Some formulas are made with neem oil rather than alcohol, if that's a concern for you. Like anti-plaque powders, dental sprays and drops are absorbed by the body and expelled through the saliva to eat away at the plaque buildup and keep your pup's breath smelling nice.
Bones are a passive way to ensure your pup's pearly whites are staying clean. Bones and meat chews will knock off plaque and tartar as your pup chews them. Besides physically removing the brown stuff, meat-based chews have enzymes that help break down plaque further. Dental chews contain no meat and have the added bonus of helping with bad breath. Your dog will surely approve of this dental hygiene method!
Professional teeth cleanings are a must for maintaining a dog's dental health. A general rule is that dogs should have an annual dental cleaning, starting at around two years of age. This may vary depending on the breed of the dog, so consult your vet to determine when your dog needs a professional cleaning.
The procedure is simple. The vet will give your dog anesthesia before beginning the dental exam and cleaning. Then, the vet will use ultrasonic and manual scalers to remove built-up food debris before buffing the teeth to keep plaque from sticking to the teeth.
Dental cleanings will not hurt your dog and can help prevent gingivitis, periodontal disease, and cavities. Plus, regular cleanings will help your pup's breath stay fresh. Remember, annual teeth cleanings are not a substitute for regular tooth brushing. Yes, dental cleanings remove built-up tartar, but plaque starts reaccumulating the same day as the dental cleaning.
Well, that does it for our dental hygiene tips for dogs. We hope this inspires you to try different methods to keep Fido's chompers in ship shape. Remember to brush your pup's teeth every day and schedule a professional cleaning every year. Your pup might not like it, but they will thank you in the long run!
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