Every year, scarfing down candy at Halloween leads some of us to think about the damage all that sugar might be doing to our teeth. And while you should never give candy to your furry friend, the Spooky Season is a good time to think about your pup’s dental health too.
Good oral health is essential for our pups for a number of reasons — and not just to keep stinky doggy breath at bay! Let’s take a closer look at why the health of your pet’s pearly whites is so important and what you can do to care for your dog’s teeth at home.
Is your pup’s dental health really that big a deal? Sure, their bad breath might make your eyes water whenever they lean in for a kiss, but other than that, it’s not really a problem, right?
Wrong. Take a minute to think about just how important your dog’s mouth is to how they interact with the world. And we don’t just mean eating and drinking — dogs can’t exactly pick up objects with their paws, so a healthy mouth is vital to your pup’s wellbeing.
Dental disease can be very painful for our pets and potentially stop them from eating. Even more alarming is the fact that the bacteria from dental disease can get into your dog’s bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body, including to vital organs like the heart and liver.
Maintaining proper dental hygiene is crucial to your dog’s overall health. And because it can help prevent other health problems from developing, it could save you money in the long run too.
Unfortunately, dental disease is quite a common problem for our fur-babies. In fact, by the time they reach their third birthday, most dogs will already be showing some signs of dental disease.
The first step to better doggy dental health is to book your pup in for a check-up. Your vet or a veterinary dentist will be able to give your pup’s pearly whites a once-over and assess their overall oral hygiene.
If there’s anything that requires treatment, they’ll pick it up. And if there’s anything special you can do to boost your pup’s dental health, your vet can provide tips and advice on home dental care for dogs.
But taking care of your dog’s teeth isn’t all about veterinary check-ups and professional cleaning. There’s also a whole lot you can do at home to keep your pup’s pearly whites in tip-top condition.
Brush your dog’s teeth
Nope, we’re not making this up. The best way to look after your dog’s teeth at home is to brush them regularly, preferably once or even twice a day!
There are toothbrushes specially designed for use on dogs, including some that slip over the end of your finger to allow easy access to your dog’s chompers. You’ll also need to make sure to use a dog-friendly toothpaste, as there are ingredients in human toothpaste that are toxic for canines.
Some pups might need a little training to get used to the idea of brushing their teeth, but the yummy flavor of dog-friendly toothpaste will help get many pups over the line. Check out our how to brush your dog’s teeth guide for more information.
Give your pup doggy dental treats and chew toys
Does your dog love to chew? If so, you can put their munching mastery to good use with dental treats. These tasty treats are designed to prevent the build-up of plaque on canine teeth, acting in a similar way to a toothbrush to keep teeth clean and healthy. They also contain ingredients to improve your dog’s breath, which every dog owner will agree can only be a good thing!
It’s also worth investing in some special dental chew toys for your furry friend. These often allow you to tuck treats into their holes and crevices, encouraging your pup to chew as much as possible. They’re also a great source of mental stimulation for dogs and will help add a bit more fun to your play sessions.
Finally, chewing a bone can also help prevent plaque build-up, but you’ll need to only give your pet raw bones. Cooked bones splinter easily and can cause choking or internal damage.
Choose the right diet
Diet can also play an important role in maintaining oral health. Some pet food brands offer diets specially designed to boost dental health. These dry foods are made with kibble that reduces the build-up of plaque and tartar and will also give your pup fresher breath.
Chat with your vet to find out whether one of these diets might be right for your dog.
Examine their teeth regularly
If you make teeth brushing part of your pup’s regular daily routine, this will give you the “pawfect” opportunity to monitor your pet’s dental health. That way, you’ll come to recognize what’s normal and what isn’t, and you should be able to detect any problems nice and early.
It’s also important that you know the key symptoms of dental disease to keep an eye out for. These include:
- Red or bleeding gums
- Pawing at the mouth
- Pain or discomfort
- Reduced appetite
- Difficulty eating
- Loose, broken, or missing teeth
- Bad breath
It’s also worth noting that some dogs can be very adept at hiding the fact that they’re in pain. So even if your pup doesn’t seem to be in any great discomfort, that doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing’s wrong.
If you’re worried that your pet might have a dental disease or other oral health problems, book an appointment with your vet.
Take them to the vet for regular check-ups
Finally, even if you’re taking the best possible care of your dog’s teeth, dental problems can still develop. That’s why it’s a good idea to take your pup in for an annual check-up with your vet, during which they can examine your dog’s teeth and gums. This will ensure that any developing problems are detected early.
Your vet may recommend that your pet has a professional tooth cleaning, which is carried out under general anesthesia. They can also suggest any other dietary or lifestyle changes that might help your pup’s teeth stay as healthy as possible.
Then, once their dental health is taken care of, you and your pooch can focus on the more important things in life — like finding the cutest Halloween costume for your fur-baby!