While dogs may not be as cavity prone as humans, they can still suffer from dental problems
Whether it's a build up of plaque, tartar, bad breath or yellowing teeth, your dog can develop it. Dental care is therefore a good practice to get into, helping your dog to avoid certain unpleasant issues in the process.
As with grooming and nail clipping, it's incredibly useful to get them used to this from a young age.
If you're planning to brush your dog's teeth, one thing to remember – do not use human toothpaste, as they will normally contain fluorides that are extremely poisonous to dogs. Instead, get a specific dog toothpaste, which should be available from most good pet stores.
If teeth cleaning proves to be particularly stressful for your dog, you can still try some other techniques to improve their oral health.
For instance, cut down on the amount of soft food that you give them. Crunchy kibble will be better for their teeth, as softer food can get caught between them, causing decay.
Giving them synthetic bones and chew toys that are specifically designed to strengthen gums and teeth can be another good option. Strike the balance though and ensure that they're not too hard to chew, otherwise that, in turn, can damage teeth too.
However, while these two methods can help, they are far from a definitive dental hygiene method.
You should ideally check your dog's mouth every week, just to check for symptoms that can reveal a dental problem, such as:
- Changes in eating or chewing habits
- Excessive drooling
- Misaligned / missing teeth
- Broken, missing or crooked teeth
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Yellowish-brown tartar crust
- Bad breath
Even if they appear to have a healthy set of teeth, your dog should still be checked every six to twelve months by a professional. A dental examination should be included within a normal check up.
Ultimately dental care can seem a hassle but is worth it in the long run. Otherwise, it risks building up and resulting in costly visits to the vet.
Image courtesy of Getty / DigitalVision / Chris Amaral