Doggy Dental Care: Tips to Help Care for Your Dog’s Teeth
It’s always a great feeling to see your furry friend smiling at you. Unfortunately, that smile may hide some possible health issues. According to PetMD, “the oral cavity of dogs is a perfect incubator for all kinds of bacteria” that may wreak havoc on your best friend’s health.
While your dog’s mouth may be a natural home for bacteria, there are steps you can take to help prevent issues that range from broken teeth to periodontal disease. Here’s what you can do to notice any issues.
How to Check Your Dog’s Mouth for Issues
While you may not be a trained doggy dentist, you can serve as the first line of defense against dental issues. Your dog may seem fine from afar, but she can inadvertently hide certain dental issues that you won’t be able to notice until you do a proper inspection. To prevent this scenario, you’ll want to regularly check your dog’s teeth and gums for any potential red flags. You don’t need to do an inspection every day, but it’s good to set a regular schedule, such as checking your dog’s mouth once a week.
Of course, you’ll want to be careful during these dental inspections. It’s important to make sure your dog is relaxed before any dental check and that you are both calm and gentle as you proceed to check her mouth. If she seems nervous or excitable, try and relax her or wait until she’s not as revved up before you place your fingers near her face. Once your dog is relaxed, you should gently lift her lips so that you can get a good look at her teeth and gums.
What to Look for When Inspecting Your Dog’s Mouth and Teeth
Knowing how to check your dog’s mouth is a key first step, but it’s also valuable to recognize signs for dental issues. There are a variety of things that may indicate some sort of pain, infection, or other problem. The following signs may be indicators that your dog may have a dental issue.
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Blood in your dog’s mouth, saliva, or on chew toys
- Vocalizing when they yawn or eat
- Loose or missing teeth
- Lumps or bumps in the mouth
- Reluctance to let you to touch their head
- Difficulty picking up food or chewing on one side of their mouth
If you happen to spot any of these signs, it’s time to take your dog for a professional dental check. Your vet will be able to diagnose any serious problems and help you and your best friend overcome her dental issues.
How to Keep Them Clean and Healthy
While vets can help treat your dog’s dental issues, it’s best to try and avoid them altogether. Fortunately, some regular dental maintenance and a few other tactics can help defend your dog’s mouth against bacteria and potential dental injuries.
Brush your dog’s teeth
Proper brushing etiquette starts with acquiring the right equipment. While you can use an extra one of your brushes, it can help to get a toothbrush that’s designed for dogs. Canine toothbrushes are longer and have curved handles that make it easier to reach back teeth. It’s also critical to use a special toothpaste made for dogs, as human toothpaste can irritate your furry friend’s stomach.
Once you have the right tools for success, it’s time to practice. Being able to inspect your dog’s mouth without any nips is a start, but you’ll need to make sure your best friend is comfortable with you or your brush touching her teeth and gums. The American Kennel Club suggests introducing different elements of the brushing process in the following order.
- Touch her teeth and gums
- Touch her teeth with the toothbrush
- Show the toothpaste to your dog and let her lick some from your finger
- Add toothpaste to the brush and introduce it to your dog
- Hold your dog’s top lip up and start brushing the top front teeth
- Move on to the side and back teeth on the top row
- Hold down the bottom lip and brush the front teeth in the bottom row
- Move on to the side and back teeth in the bottom row
Throughout this process, make sure that you are praising your dog and giving her tasty dog treats for completing new steps of the process. It’s also important to not rush through every step on the first try. Getting their teeth brushed isn’t exactly a natural process for dogs. If your dog starts to get restless after a step, it’s okay to call it a day and practice again at a different time. After some time – and plenty of praise and treats – your dog should become more comfortable with the process.
Use mouth wipes or pads for dogs
If toothbrushing isn’t working out, dental wipes and pads are another option. Like canine toothbrushes and toothpaste, there are wipes available at various physical and online pet supply stores that are specifically made for our furry friends. These products give you another method for cleaning your canine companion’s mouth.
Unlike brushing, wipes or pads don’t need any paste or other cleaner. Instead, you can use these soft, disposable items to gently remove tarter and bacteria. Of course, this process does mean you’ll need to stick your fingers in your dog’s mouth, but that may be a more comfortable process depending on you and your dog. Wipes and pads can also serve as a good way to get your dog used to the teeth cleaning process before introducing her to a brush. Either way, wipes give you another method to make sure your precious pooch is getting some regular dental care.
Find the right chew toys
Who says dental care can’t be fun for dogs? Certain chew toys allow your dog to actively decrease plaque buildup while gnawing away at something throughout the day. These toys mean your dog can do something fun while unwittingly helping her dental health.
Of course, it’s important to find the right chew toys for your dog. Examine different dental treats to make sure they have just enough give to endure plenty of chewing so that your best friend can regularly play with their long-lasting dental chew toy in-between cleanings.
Schedule teeth cleanings
If you’re having trouble brushing or wiping your dog’s teeth, you can always turn to a professional. Some dogs may be too anxious or feel uncomfortable with you handling their mouth. Unsuccessful attempts to clean your dog’s mouth will lead to plenty of aggravation without much tarter removal, so don’t be afraid to see if your vet or another local clinic can perform tooth cleanings for you. Not only will this help you keep your dog’s mouth clean, it’ll save you plenty of frustration in the long run.
You Can Protect Your Dog’s Perfect Smile with Some Special Care
With a clean, healthy mouth, your best friend will have even more reason to be happy. While it may take time to get your dog used to brushing or other good dental health habits, you can be sure that regular care will make a big difference for your precious pooch over the years.
While maintaining dental care is great, it’s not the only thing you can do to keep your furry friend happy and healthy. Join our Best Friends Club today to receive our exclusive email newsletter full of articles on training tips, healthy habits, and members-only discounts on Bil-Jac dog food, treats, and other products.