Dental hygiene for dogs is something that most dog-owners are aware of. But often, they neglect to do anything proactive about it because their pets do not like their teeth brushed. So, instead of engaging in a struggle every day with paste and a toothbrush, they just let matter slide until the vet has to put the animal under anesthesia to get a deep-cleaning done.
The reason why dental hygiene for dogs is so important is not just to make sure they have sweet breath (though that’s a big relief, too!) They are at risk of developing periodontal diseases, abscesses, cysts or tumors in the mouth, broken teeth and roots – the list goes on.
According to the American Veterinary Dental College, four out of five dogs develop periodontal diseases to some degree by the age of three, that are caused by a build-up of plaque. And unless you make sure your pets are following a consistent teeth-cleaning routine, they’re at risk of several life-threatening conditions – like heart problems, liver abscesses, sepsis and bone infection – in the long run.
Here are some home remedies you can follow to make sure your pet’s living a healthy life with healthy teeth and gums:
• You don’t have to brush their teeth every single day. But do it as often and as consistently as you can to prevent plaque build-up.
Many dogs hate to have their teeth brushed – the same way they hate to get their nails trimmed – but this is a habit they must develop with guidance and training from you.
Dog toothpastes come in delicious flavors like chicken and peanut butter. (Do not use toothpastes meant for humans, as certain ingredients in them can be toxic for your pet.) If you don’t have a pet toothbrush, you can use a regular one that fits over your fingertip.
DOG TEETH WIPES
• If for some reason, the brushing routine is not working out so well for you, try using dog teeth wipes instead. They’re meant to be rubbed on the teeth to remove traces of plaque and food debris, and though they’re not quite as efficient in getting into every cranny and crevice like a toothbrush can, wipes do a well enough job of taking the worst of the deposits away.
Using teeth wipes is a great way to introduce your dogs to the oral care routine. Once they get used to getting their mouths handled and is comfortable with the process, you can slowly move on to brushes in the future.
• Dogs that spend more time chewing actively tend to have less plaque build-up. And some types of dog dental treats and diets can reduce plaque by nearly 70%. How do they do this? Simply by the mechanical action of chewing that displaces and then removes the deposits.
You can buy dental treats from a pet store or from your vet’s office. Usually they come in the form of chews, dental chews, bones and biscuits. There are also dog teeth sprays, things to add in the dogs drinking water, a product to sprinkle on the dogs food…these are all teeth care preventatives.
People have to be careful with dental dog treats because they are very fattening (Greenies). Antlers (deer and elk) are great for the dogs teeth and it keeps them busy for hours; plus they are not fattening. Bully sticks are also good for their teeth.
Here’s a handy list of brands that provides all the information you need.
• If your dog’s dental health is severely compromised, your vet may suggest a deep clean. This procedure is not cheap, and you’ll have to leave your pet at the clinic for several hours while he/she is put under. After the cleaning procedure, the dog will probably be quite disoriented and groggy from the anesthesia. But this is a necessary step to maintain your pet’s overall health, and often, a deep cleaning experience encourages pet-owners to be more active to ensure that the teeth remain clean and disease-free thereafter.
• Do a visual exam of your dog’s dental condition every now and then. Lift the dog’s lips and check the teeth and gums. Healthy gums should be pink. If they are white, red or visibly swollen, make sure to take your pet to the vet.
Dogs are masters at hiding their pain, and you may not even be aware that the animal is suffering from pain and discomfort on account of dental neglect.