8 Tips To Improve Your Dog’s Dental Health

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
Dogs deserve pearly white teeth, so make sure they have a healthy smile

You want to keep your dog smiling… and proper dental care is an important factor when it comes to ensuring he is happy and healthy. Dental health care for dogs is a relatively new concept – my parents certainly never brushed their dog’s teeth! But pet health practitioners are advocating the importance of a healthy dog mouth, which includes healthy teeth and gums.

It’s surprising how many dog owners I speak to that don’t think about their dog’s dental health. It doesn’t mean they don’t care – they just didn’t know the importance it has on their dog’s overall health. But periodontal disease is the most prevalent of all diseases in dogs. It also happens to be one happens to be one of the easiest to recognize, treat and control… if you follow these tips regularly.

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth: I brush Oscar’s teeth every day, but that’s because I’ve made it part of our daily grooming routine. But you don’t need to do it daily – once or twice a week will keep plaque at bay and ensure that your dog’s teeth sparkle. Remember to use toothpaste that’s made just for dogs. Never use human toothpaste, as it will make them sick.

Regularly inspect your dog’s mouth: You should be checking out your dog’s teeth and gums every week. Place your dog in front of you, lift his lips up and take a good look at his gums and teeth. On his teeth, you’re looking for the presence of brownish tartar. And your dog’s gums should be pink (not white or red) and shouldn’t be swollen.

Visit your vet for dental checkups: When I bring in Oscar to the vet, he always gets a quick dental checkup, which is provided at no extra charge to me. He’s usually going in for shots or a bi-yearly visit, and the vet gives his teeth a 5-minute checkup. But that’s only because I brush Oscar’s teeth daily and they are in good shape. If you think that something is wrong with your dog’s teeth, get him into the veterinarian as soon as you can. You don’t want a small problem to grow into a big toothache.

Chew Treats and Toys: Shhhhh! Don’t tell your dog that these toys and treats are good for their teeth! Chew toys and treats help teeth stay strong, while they massage gums and scrape away soft tartar. There are plenty of different kinds on the market, so shop around until you find something your dog can really sink his teeth into.

Healthy Teeth Diet: There are formulated dry foods that are specifically made to combat the buildup of plaque and tartar. Another way to fight plaque is by ending the table scraps gravy train. Your dog may not like it, but his teeth will!

Bone up on bones: I love giving Oscar strong bones to chew on. I know that some people are hesitant to give their dog a real bone, but I prefer them to the plastic ones. I always buy the strong, tough ones from pigs and lambs that are roasted. When Oscar chews on one of these, the hard surface helps to scrape his teeth of tarter and gives him an oral workout.

Bad breath check: If your dog as breath that’s so bad it could stop a charging rhinoceros, it may because of his teeth. Many bad breath issues come from diet, but a set of teeth that harbor nasty bacteria could also be the culprit. If his breath is really stinky, take him to the vet to have it checked out before the problem becomes worse.

Professional cleaning: If all else fails, your dog may need to go in for a professional cleaning. This requires general anesthesia and can become quite costly, depending on what needs to be done. The vet will scale and polish your dog’s teeth, and see if there are any serious dental issues. If there are, teeth may need to be extracted. The more you do at home, the less likely you’ll have to resort to this kind of procedure.

Did I miss anything? These aren’t the only ways to keep your dog’s teeth healthy, so let me know what you do in the comment section below.

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

More by Amy Tokic