Dental disease is a common disease that many dogs suffer from, yet it is largely preventable.
Some dog owners scoff at the idea of having to brush their dogs’ teeth, but good dental hygiene is an important part of your dogs’ overall health.
Here are 10 tips on how to keep a dog’s teeth clean and healthy to avoid a buildup of plaque and tartar.
1. Start with a Healthy Diet
One of the best ways to dog dental health without brushing is to start by feeding them a healthy diet.
A diet full of processed foods made with by-products, meals, and cereal grains will stick to your dog’s teeth and cause damage over time that can’t be easily repaired.
The best thing to do for your dog’s teeth and overall health is to feed them a diet consisting primarily of whole foods (meat, fruits, and vegetables).
This goes for meals and snacks – just make sure that you always give your dog food in portions that are appropriate for their size.
2. Create a Tooth Brushing Routine
The best time to start a tooth brushing routine is when your dog is a puppy, if possible.
Even if they don’t have their adult teeth yet, starting early will help your puppy get used to having their teeth brushed from an early age so they’ll behave better when it becomes more important to brush regularly.
Choosing an appropriate toothbrush is key. For an inexpensive toothbrush and toothpaste set kit check out Virbac Oral Hygiene kit.
If your dog is older they can still learn to follow a tooth brushing routine, but they might be more stubborn at first.
How do you brush a dog's teeth that hates being brushed? The key here is to start small.
You could get into the habit of brushing your dog's teeth before and after you brush your own teeth. (Your dog follows you into the bathroom, doesn't he?)
Brush one side of your dog’s mouth one day and next time do the other side, for example.
Brush the outside of the back teeth, as well as the front teeth.
With practice and positive reinforcement, your dog should eventually be able to sit through the whole thing.
Handy Tip: Try turning teeth brushing into a game. Stay cheerful, and do it quickly. Act like you're starting something really fun with your dog.
3. Look Out for Warning Signs
Sometimes keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy means doing your best and watching out for warning signs that could signal dental disease.
Despite your best efforts it is possible that your dog may have problems with their teeth that need vet attention, so it’s important to know what to look for.
Some symptoms of dog dental disease include:
- Bad breath
- Brown build-up
- White or red gums
- Not eating or trouble eating
- Lack of appetite
- Increased salivation
- Loose teeth
Dental disease can have a negative impact on your dog’s health and happiness.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to take your dog to the vet.
4. Use a Water Additive or Dental Oral Rinse
Water additives and dental oral rinses are designed to fight plaque and freshen your dog’s breath (1).
This can be a helpful solution if your dog hates having their teeth brushed but you want to maintain their healthy mouth and avoid dog breath.
Some dogs don’t do well with water additives.
In these cases, a dental oral rinse can be an easier alternative that you can just spray into your dog’s mouth.
5. Give Your Dog Dental Chews or Chew Toys
Dental chews and chew toys are great because dog’s love them!
Little do they know, while they are chewing and playing they’re also preventing plaque built-up. However, owners need to keep in mind that chews and chew toys probably won’t reduce plaque that’s already there.
Chews, and toys needs to be part of your dog’s overall dental care regimen, not the whole thing.
Another thing to keep in mind is that chew toys shouldn’t be too hard. If they are, they can damage your dog’s teeth.
6. Know Your Breed
Knowing your breed can help you be prepared if your dog has a predisposition towards dental problems like French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Shelties, Dachshunds, Greyhounds and Pugs.
For example, small dogs (like toy breeds and dogs with short snouts) typically need dental care earlier than large dogs (2).
7. Raw Bones
Uncooked bones that are appropriate for your dog’s size can help remove plaque and stimulate gums.
Knuckle bones are preferable over marrow bones reducing the chances of fracturing a dog's teeth.
Make sure that you always supervise your dog when they have a bone.
Never give your dog a cooked bone because it might splinter and cause your dog to choke or hurt themselves.
8. Coconut Oil
Dogs love the taste of coconut oil and it can be a great way to promote good breath and dental health (3).
You can easily work coconut oil into your dog’s dental care routine by poking holes in veggies, filling them with coconut oil, and freezing before giving them to your dog.
You can also freeze coconut oil in a Kong or other treat toy for your dog. Just be aware that this strategy can get a little messy
9. Use Tooth Wipes Instead
Tooth wipes are a good alternative if your dog hates when you break out the tooth brush and fights you the whole time.
You can find dental wipes specifically made for dog’s teeth in pet stores. (No products found..)
10. Use Enzymatic Dog Chews
Enzymes that dissolve tartar on your dog’s teeth can also be found in pet stores.
Enzymatic dog chews can be purchased on their own and are commonly used as an ingredient in dog toothpaste.
Wrapping It Up
Dog dental care isn’t always simple, but it’s important.
Getting into a routine is an important first step, you'll reduce the need for cleanings under anesthesia.
Luckily, there are many things that you can do to make sure your dog’s teeth and mouth are well taken care of.