Dental care for dogs is one of the most overlooked aspects of canine health. However, neglecting your dog’s teeth puts them at risk for serious health issues.
From broken or rotting teeth, which put them at risk for abscesses or infections, to sore or missing teeth that make it challenging to eat, dogs are at the mercy of their owners when it comes to dental health. Also if a dog is not feeling well or in pain, this can cause behavior problems.
Your dog depends on you to look out for their physical health - including their teeth' health. Here are five facts dog companions should know to protect their fur pal’s dental health.
Most people think of dental disease as an “older dog problem.” Yes, the final impacts of dental disease are most obvious when a dog reaches the senior years - and this is when surgeries pose the highest risks. However, teeth and gum disease are rooted back in their younger life. Dogs can show signs as early as three years old if owners aren’t paying attention to their furry companion’s dental care.
Once dental disease sets in, it’s more difficult to manage. Canine dental disease impacts gum health, erodes tooth structure, and leads to infection, inflammation, and diseased teeth. Poor dog dental health also puts them at higher risk for heart disease and kidney or liver issues.
Yes, veterinarians provide routine dental cleanings, but these require sedation or anesthesia, which poses a minor risk to dogs. While most dogs require professional cleaning at some point, adopting a home dental care plan means your dog can go far longer before anything like that is required.
Speak to your veterinarian about the best method to clean your dog’s treat based on the dog’s size, breed, and age. In most cases, you’ll need:
We recommend building the daily tooth brushing session into the daily routine. For example, many clients do it right after the morning or evening daily walk when their dog is calmer.
Read How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth for more detailed information if this is the first time you’ve done something like this.
Some dogs rarely need much additional dental attention because they eat a healthy diet.
Investing in high-quality dog food is worth it. Purchasing dog food made with “real” ingredients saves you money on vet bills down the road. Plus, you’ll notice a difference in your dog's fresher breath, glossier coat, healthier teeth, and improved energy. You may even notice reduced anxiety or negative behaviors caused by preservatives or unnatural dyes added to many commercial pet foods.
The healthier you feed and nourish your dog, the less likely they are to have dental complications.
Treats offer another chance to provide extra dental attention without your dog being the wiser. Choose treats approved by the VOHC to guarantee they do what they claim to. If your dog is left at home for long periods, or if you have an extra energetic or nervous dog, use your dental treats as part of a DIY enrichment toy routine.
Some of the best tooth-friendly treats dedicated to dental care for dogs are:
Dogs are programmed to chew on things. In the wild, this would mainly consist of the bones of their prey or the occasional antler or animal horn. However, domesticated dogs fare best when they can access safe chew toys - like dog-safe ropes, Kong chews, or other dog toys/chews that can take a beating but are designed to strengthen the jaw while removing tartar and plaque.
You can also treat your dog to edible chews. Dental chews can be provided for dogs daily or weekly (more than one per day may be too much).
It’s always good to check with your veterinarian to ensure the chew toys, treats, or edible chews are right for your dog’s breed, dental health, and age.
Don’t be alarmed if you notice a little blood on a chewie if your dog is getting one for the first time in a long time. Unless they seem like they’re in pain or the blood seems excessive, this is just a sign that their gums needed it! If it persists, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to be safe.
The dogs here at Alternative Canine Training - our personal companions and the ones joining us for Doggie Boot Camp - always have plenty of opportunities to access healthy dental chews. This leads to healthy teeth and gums, happy dogs, and better behavior.
Contact us anytime you need support with your furry friend. We offer a variety of opportunities to help you bond and to encourage positive behaviors at home, the dog park, and around town.