A dog’s teeth and their overall dental hygiene is an area that should not be ignored. Since February is Pet Dental Health Month it’s the perfect opportunity to revisit this aspect of pet care. Many dog owners assume that “dog breath” is a normal fact of life. Unfortunately, bad breath is a sign that your pet has the beginnings of dental disease. Besides the obvious bad breath and blackened teeth, advanced dental disease in dogs can lead to further systemic issues and infections.
Fortunately for pet owners, there are a number of methods and products available to help support proper dental hygiene without the big vet bill.
The idea of brushing your dog’s teeth is as unappealing to the owner as it is to the dog. It is not necessary to clean your pets’ teeth every day, but it should become part of your weekly routine. IF possible start the practice of good dental hygiene when the dog is a puppy, if possible, helping to form a life long habit. Start with a dog specific toot brush and toothpaste (usually found in meat or peanut butter flavors). Never use human toothpaste for dogs as the ingredients are highly toxic to them. If your dog does not tolerate a regular toothbrush, there are ones that fit over your finger that have very soft bristles.
The simple act of chewing is beneficial to your pets’ dental hygiene and oral health. Gnawing on a chew toy or bones helps to remove plaque build up from teeth and helps to strengthen the teeth and gums. Rubber chew toys may be more economical as they tend to last a long time. Treats marketed as “dental treats” often contain ingredients to clean your dog’s mouth and freshen their breath. Even regular meat treats contain enzymes that help promote dental hygiene and reduce dog breath.
DENTAL SPRAY/DENTAL WIPES
For pets that cower at the sight of a toothbrush, dental spray and wipes are available. Sprays are easily applied, destroys bacteria that cause bad breath, and fight the build-up of plaque and tartar. If your dog tolerates your fingers in its mouth, wipes may be your answer. They are rubbed along the teeth and gums and help to remove plaque build up. The downside of these products is that they don’t get in-between teeth and in crevices as well as brushing.
In today’s day and age, many people seek natural alternatives to remedy everyday problems and dog dental hygiene is no exception. Brushing a dog’s teeth with coconut oil has shown to reduce dog breath and make the removal of plaque and tartar easier when brushing. Herbal extracts such as grape seed oil, thyme oil, peppermint oil, and even cinnamon help to dissolve and remove plaque/tartar.
Having your pet’s professionally cleaned involves a trip to the vet, anesthesia, and a relatively expensive bill. If your pet’s teeth are already too damaged to handle in the home, however, this is the next best choice. It will get your pet’s teeth in a condition that you can better maintain while improving your pet’s quality of life. Keep in mind, if you have a senior or at-risk pet your vet may seek an alternative to anesthesia.
The dental hygiene and oral care of pets is often overlooked by pet owners. Some are unaware of the long term health effects of poor dental hygiene and others are wary of the fight and the mess that comes with brushing a dog’s teeth. Thankfully, for owners and dogs alike, there are plenty of items available to augment the process of brushing. Simple trial and error will allow you to find the methods that work best for you and your furry best friend.