Dental care is an extremely significant aspect of pet care that dog owners overlook. Statistics show that over 80 percent of dogs develop gum disease or gingivitis by the age of three. While gum disease is not the only dental concern facing dogs and their owners, it does open the door to a host of increased health complications, such as kidney and heart conditions, as the dog ages. With proper dental care, the dog's health and well-being considerably improves as he ages. What are a few tips to help pet owners support a dog's dental care needs?
Brush your dog's teeth daily. One of the easiest dental care practices for dogs is straightforward tooth brushing. While dogs rarely develop cavities, they frequently suffer from plaque buildup that leads to gum disease or painful tooth loss. Use pet friendly toothpaste, not a human one, approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), as these products offer the most benefit to the dog's mouth. While you do not need to brush a dog's teeth for several minutes, you do need to get into the habit of brushing the dog's teeth every day. If you begin this practice as a puppy, you will meet less resistance from the dog as he grows. My dog loves his chicken-flavored toothpaste so much that he seems to view brushing as more of a daily treat than a healthy care task.
Carefully choose foods to aid in plaque removal. Choose a well-balanced diet for your dog that provides the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary to his overall health. While many foods claim dental health properties, pet product labeling regulations are not the same as human product and claims must be researched. Check the Veterinary Oral Health Council for a list of foods and treats that stood up to dental health claims after evaluation. Choosing hard dog foods over soft, sticky ones also help the dog's natural saliva cleanse the mouth as he chews, removing harmful bacteria. You may also opt to add veterinarian-approved dental hygiene drops to your dog's meal according to instructions.
Choose appropriate dog chews and treats. While crunchy foods help dogs clean teeth naturally, extremely hard treats and chews put the dog's mouth at risk. Animal bones, hard, inflexible, plastic chews, and animal hooves all pose risks for tooth fracture or mouth injury in dogs. They are just too hard. As with dog food, dog treats often claim dental health benefits that must be researched. The Veterinary Oral Health Council website also offers a list of safe and beneficial dog treats and chews.
Schedule regular dental exams and cleanings for your dog. During your dog's veterinarian checkups, your vet should exam his teeth and mouth. Depending on your dog's lifestyle and age, dental cleanings may be recommended and should be completed as often as your vet deems necessary and safe. During a dog's dental exam and cleaning, the vet will take x-rays of the dog's mouth, clean and polish the teeth, and look for signs of damaged teeth that may be causing pain. Dogs often require tooth extractions and experience notable differences in behavior after dental cleanings.
Watch for signs that your dog needs emergency dental care. My dog is an aggressive chewer. He loves all of his approved chews and treats, as well as those unapproved chews like rocks, bones, and any other intriguing object that his canine mind finds chew-worthy. While supervised as much as possible, he still has a knack for finding dangerous new toys. It is essential to his dental health and well-being that I keep an eye out for signs that he injured his teeth or mouth. If your dog is not eating or drinking properly or whimpers during play, he may have a fractured tooth or an abscess. Many dental problems are best addressed in the first couple of days, so catching problems early is vital to the dog's recovery and often to your wallet.
Sources:Dental Care for Pets