As a vet, I can’t stress enough how important the health of your dog’s teeth and gums are to their overall wellbeing.
Sadly, I see pets on a daily basis where the only solution to their advanced dental distress is to have teeth removed. One of the reasons that gum disease and periodontal disease can take hold and then cause irreparable damage is that our beloved pets will often suffer in silence.
Bad breath is a sure sign that all may not be well in your dog’s mouth
Bad breath is a likely sign that there is some disturbing bacteria build up happening in your dog’s mouth which ultimately leads to gum disease. Some of the other reasons for bad breath could be that your dog is eating forbidden food (like food out of the rubbish bin or compost) or, that they have food stuck in their teeth and gums.
Regular dental checks are the cornerstone of great health
The most important thing you can do to maintain your dog’s oral health is to book them in for a 6-monthly or annual check-up. Regular brushing will not always get to the source of most of the infection under the gum line. That requires some heavy-duty scaling by a professional!
What’s a good home dental routine for your dog?
- Gear up
Regular daily home care can reduce tartar build-up and improve overall dental health, however, It’s not appropriate to use a human toothpaste on pets because these contain foaming agents and fluoride that are harmful to them. Instead, use a pet paste or pet dental gel. Getting a special dog toothbrush to use can also be helpful.
I recommend starting your home dental routine early so that your furry friend is trained to accept a ginger toothbrush or dental gel from the get-go. When starting out, do not take more than 10 - 30 seconds all up. Using positive rewards and encouraging your pet by making it fun are sure-fire ways to make the process a happy one for everyone.
- Make play pay dividends for dental health
What if there was a way to have dogs do something they love which also helps their teeth? Introducing the tasty chew toy!
Dog chews, when made with dental hygiene in mind, are great for massaging the gums and removing all food residue from his teeth. Special dental dog chews have been designed to try to control tartar build-up which is an important part of keeping your dog’s mouth clean and healthy.
- Nothing beats the right bone
When your dog chews a bone their jawbone is exercised, it stimulates their gums and that, in turn, helps to remove tartar from their teeth.
However, you do need to be careful about choosing the right bone.
Size is important. Don’t go for a bone that is small enough for them to swallow or get stuck in their throat. Also avoid sharp bones that could chip teeth, get stuck in their teeth and/or do more serious damage internally. Cooked bones are definitely OUT as these are sharp. Many pet parents find veal briskets and veal bones helpful.
Dental health is one easy way that we can ensure our beloved pets enjoy a long and happy life.
Dr Heidi Ward- McGrath BVSc