February is National Pet Dental Health Month.
Keeping your pets’ teeth clean and their gums healthy is important for more than just pleasant breath. Many veterinarians feel that oral disease is the number one health problem diagnosed in dogs. Most dogs should receive professional dental health care by age two to three years. By age three, 80% of dogs are showing some symptoms of oral disease.
Although dogs rarely get cavities, they are prone to gum disease and excess tartar build-up on the teeth. While the frequency of dental examinations and need for scaling depends on how quickly tarter forms on the dog’s teeth, below are some dental health tips that every dog can benefit from.
3 Tips to Promote Dog Dental Health
1. Brush their Teeth
Just like in humans, food particles and bacteria collect along our pets gum line and form plaque. Brushing your pet’s teeth can remove this plaque. Try to brush the teeth and gums three times a week using a toothpaste made for dogs. Do not use a toothpaste made for humans. Its foaming action is unpleasant to dogs, and dogs cannot spit and rinse after using it. Pair these DentaMed Dual-End Pet Toothbrush with DentaMed Pet Toothpaste, or for an easier option, try Petrodex’s Finger Toothbrush Gloves or Davis Dental Wipes.
2. Use Dog Dental Tools
If the plaque is not removed, tartar will begin to form on the teeth. Tartar is irritating to the gums and causes gingivitis. At this point it is necessary to remove the plaque with special instruments called dental scalers or tooth scrapers.
If the tartar is not removed, it will build up under the gums and encourage more bacterial growth. Your pet may then develop periodontal disease. This can lead to loose teeth, painful abscesses, bone loss or infection. This infection can cause damage to the heart valves, liver and kidneys. Your pet would then need to be treated by your veterinarian to slow or stop the periodontal disease.
3. Provide Dental Chews & Treats
Dog dental chews and treats are a great way to promote dental hygiene in between teeth brushing. Plus, tossing your dog a dental treat is often much easier than wrestling them down for a teeth cleaning! We recommend the Nylabone® Dental Chew Bone for a long-lasting chew toy and Greenies® and Kanoodles® are among our favorite edible dental treats.
In addition to the tips above, follow these guidelines at home:
- Feed a dry kibble diet. Dry foods are abrasive and keep the teeth clean. If you prefer to feed canned food, offer some dry biscuits or cookies daily.
- Avoid feeding chicken bones and long bones that splinter.
- Schedule annual veterinary visits for cleaning and, if necessary, scaling. A yearly check-up is the best prevention against dental problems.
These are all first-line-of-defense measures that you can take to ensure your pet will have a healthy dental life.
Check out Jeffers Pet’s full line of canine dental care supplies to help your dog have a healthy mouth.
Information given here is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is, in no way, intended to supersede, challenge or supplant the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed veterinarian.
Renee Jones-Lewis is a certified professional dog trainer, having received instruction from canine behaviorist Dr. Pamela Reid, plus nationally acclaimed trainers: Patricia McConnell, Pia Silvani, and Jean Donaldson, to name a few. She serves as a Pet Marketing and Canine Specialist for JeffersPet and JeffersPet.com.
Questions about this article, training or non-emergent health concerns are welcome. Renee can be reached most days from 9am – 5pm Central Time (Mon-Fri) at 1-800-533-3377 ext 381 or by email rsjones@jefferspet. com.
*Updated and revised on February 02, 2017.