Don’t you love to see your dog smile?
As a pet owner, you may have been privy to the misconception that our pets’ dental hygiene hails primarily from routine chewing. But that’s not the case. Without routine dental care, decay, fractures, frustration, and doggie halitosis can settle in, and even lead to bigger issues. Tooth brushing is, in fact, integral to a dog’s overall health and well-being.
Dr. Brittany Sembler, VMD, has advanced training in canine dentistry, and regularly works with Doylestown Veterinary Hospital patients and their parents to establish routine home dental care plans.
She offers the following four dog dental care tips for protecting your best pal’s bright smile.
- Brush your dog’s teeth daily. Just like us, dogs benefit from daily brushing, says Dr. Sembler. She recommends using a toothbrush and a pet-approved toothpaste, like Virbac CET, which is pet safe and available in multiple, dog-favorite flavors.
Of course, dogs may not quite see the benefit in brushing that their owners do, so getting your pup accustomed to the tools and the technique may be necessary.
“Get your dog used to the toothpaste, first,” says Dr. Sembler. “They can lick it and even eat it because it’s pet-safe.”
After your dog realizes that toothpaste can be somewhat tasty, introduce the toothbrush and gradually gain your dog’s trust until you can pass over each tooth’s surface a few times.
“You don’t have to brush for the whole two minutes,” Dr. Sembler says regarding standard brushing protocols. “Even five passes over each tooth will make quite a difference.”
- Consider a dental chew. Chewing does have its benefits, Dr. Sembler says. She suggests giving your dog a pet-safe dental chew like OraVet or Veggiident, particularly on days when you don’t brush your dog’s teeth.
“I like OraVet because as dogs chew the product becomes a bit tacky, which helps to pull off some of the tartar,” says Dr. Sembler. The idea, she adds, is that as your dog chews, such products rub against the tooth surface, helping to remove plaque.
Dental chews shouldn’t replace brushing, however, as they occasionally leave some particles behind, themselves. “But it is a nice alternative compared to not being able to do any dental care at all.”
- Stay away from bones, antlers, and hooves. Many pet supply stores carry high-end, designer bones, including antlers, cow hooves, and more. But hard items like these can cause teeth to crack or fracture. Steer clear, says Dr. Sembler.
- Keep up with routine doctor visits. Having your dog’s teeth evaluated regularly is an essential part of pet care.
Dr. Sembler recommends dental exams at least once a year for young animals less than 7 years of age, and twice per year for older dogs and smaller dogs, as they tend to build plaque at a more rapid rate.
And be aware of the warning signs, Dr. Sembler says.
“If animals ever seem to be dropping food, dropping their toys, have a decrease in appetite, or are pawing at their mouth – see your vet as soon as possible.”
Keeping up with routine dental care can help postpone dental procedures with anesthetics, including unnecessary extractions.
“If dental disease progresses far enough, teeth may need to be extracted for the comfort and the health of an animal’s mouth,” says Dr. Sembler. “And if dental disease is severe enough it can affect a dog’s heart, liver, and kidneys, and can even cause the jaw to fracture.”
Doylestown Veterinary Hospital & Holistic Pet Care specializes in preventive dental care and oral surgery for dogs and cats and offers non-anesthetic cleanings via Pet Dental Services for qualifying pets. Contact us to learn more about scheduling an appointment.