Anyone who has a dog or has even been around a dog can probably agree that dog breath is a force to be reckoned with. In extreme cases, a dog's bad breath can serve as a red flag for more serious issues - infection, pain, and even possible organ damage. The good news is that a dog's dental health can be greatly impacted with preventative care and maintenance! February is National Pet Dental Health month, so at the suggestion of a friend, Tory and I thought it would be a good idea to feature this topic. Your dog's teeth (and possibly your nostrils) just may thank us for it.
Just like your own teeth, a dog's teeth are going to suffer decay without the regular removal of tartar build up. It is not necessarily natural for a dog to enjoy having someone poking around in his or her mouth. This is why it is extremely advantageous to teach your dog to have his or her mouth examined and worked with from day one. You may have to start simply by getting your dog used to having his or her mouth touched. Then, introduce the taste of the paste. Finally, introduce a soft bristled brush with the paste on it.
Just so we're all on the same page here - you must buy special toothpaste for your pet. Using regular human toothpaste is dangerous for your dog. One highly veterinarian-recommended brand of toothpaste for dogs is CET. The pastes come in several appealing flavors that are safe for your dog to ingest.
Brushing your dog's teeth is not the only way to enhance dental health, though. Providing toys and bones for your dog to chew on can also aid in the prevention of tartar build up.
Rag bones can serve as a sort of floss for your dog. (Just be sure to supervise while in use, as dogs can swallow string and this is often hazardous.)
Toys with texture and ridges, such as this one, stimulate gums and help break down tartar on the teeth.
Real animal bones such as these femur bones provide hours of chewing time for dogs. (They do pose a risk for wear and tear on dog teeth, however; so use with discretion.)
Using an additive to your pet's drinking water like this one can is an easy way to further promote oral health.
Having a periodic dental done by your veterinarian for your dog is also a crucial part of preserving your dog's healthy teeth. This is done while your dog is under anesthesia, and while it can be pricey, I can personally attest to the value of having this done. Gabe is a three-year-old healthy dog, but when I had a dental done on him several months ago, they discovered he had not just one, but two broken teeth! Thankfully, neither of the teeth were in need of a root canal because we caught it in time. They were able to seal each of them and prevent any worse pain in his mouth. I would much rather provide preventative care for my dog than needing a painful emergency procedure done later on down the road.
Many veterinarians offer discounts on pet dentals during the month of February, so now is an ideal time to have your pet's mouth checked out! We highly encourage you to help preserve your dog's 'smile'.