Many dog owners are guilty of doing everything to keep their furry friend healthy but tend to overlook their oral care. If ignored for too long, your dog could suffer from a variety of dental diseases with the common sign being foul breath. Like humans, these oral problems can lead to deadly infections and issues, including heart, liver, and kidney disease. If you’re looking to maintain proper oral care for your dog, you need to have an idea of what a healthy mouth looks like.
Common oral care problems in dogs
There are several things that could go wrong with your dog’s oral health, and knowing the signs can help you tell when your canine is experiencing a disease or condition that needs to be treated. Here are the common oral care issues you should know:
- Halitosis: One of the first signs that something is wrong with your dog’s oral hygiene is halitosis (bad breath), which is usually caused by bacteria from food stuck in your dog’s teeth. While it is usually a mild issue that requires you to brush your dog’s teeth regularly, halitosis can also be caused by an infection, and this is a serious medical condition. In such instances, you may need to speak with your vet.
- Cysts and tumors: If you notice any lumps in your pet’s mouth, don’t ignore it! Those lumps could actually be cysts or tumours, and you may need to speak to your vet to drain the cyst or remove the lumps.
- Gingivitis: This is another oral problem that can affect dogs. It is usually characterized by inflamed gums, but it is reversible with regular brushing.
- Periodontal disease: This is a serious gum infection that damages gums and can destroy the jawbone. Common signs include reluctance to chew or crying out when chewing, loss of teeth, swollen gums, and so on.
What does a healthy mouth look like?
The first step towards taking care of your dog’s teeth is to know what a healthy mouth looks like so you can know when something is off. Healthy dog teeth should be clean and free of plaque and tartar (hard, scaly, or sticky colorations.) The entire 42 teeth should also be intact and not broken. Going further, the tongue should be moist, and the gums should be salmon pink. If you notice any discoloration on the teeth or hole in lumps on the tongue, you should get your canine to the vet fast.
Oral care tips for dogs
Wondering how to keep your dog's teeth clean? Here some tips:
- Brush your dog’s teeth regularly
Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is the best preventive measure against plaque build-up. You don’t have to brush their teeth every day; although the more often, the better. If you need an idea of how often you should do this activity, every three days is a good way to begin. This new routine might be difficult for your dog at first, but you can train them to get used to it just the same way they’re used to getting their nails trimmed. In fact, it’s a great idea to start early with your dog as a puppy, and before long, they will look forward to a regular tooth brushing routine.
To get started, you will need to get a soft-bristled toothbrush which is designed for dogs as they are easier to use compared to those made for humans. Be sure also to use toothpaste, which is specially made for dogs as they’re are not harmful to dogs when swallowed. Then make your dog sit still so you can brush their teeth and then give a treat reward afterward so they can attach brushing their teeth to something positive.
- Consider dog tooth wipes
Dogtooth wipes are a great alternative for those that are unable to brush teeth or that want to try out other cleaning techniques. They’re meant to be rubbed against your dog’s teeth to help remove plaque and tartar. The result is similar to what you will get if you were to brush your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush and even better. Unlike toothbrushes that are unable to get to the tin nooks and crannies of your dog’s mouth, dog wipes can get to those areas and leave your dog’s teeth clean. They’re also more convenient for use than a toothbrush with toothpaste.
- Go for a special diet if recommended
If your dog has oral health issues, your vet might recommend a special diet to help slow down the formation of plaque and tartar. For example, some vets recommend crunch kibbles for dogs that have troubles with brushing. They’re considered a better alternative to soft food because they’re less likely to stick to the teeth of your canine companion and cause decay. Be sure to ask your vet if a special diet is right for your pet.
- Offer appropriate chew treats and chew bones
Some chew treats and chews bones are specially designed to keep your dog’s teeth clean and strengthen their gums. Look for products that carry the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal, which is a sign that they meet the required standards when it comes to controlling plaque and tartar in dogs. There might be other products that are of good quality but without the seal. It is always safer to buy treats that come with the seal as it’s a sign that they’ve earned that approval. Furthermore, synthetic chew bones can also help keep their teeth strong. Ask your vet to recommend toxin-free rawhide, nylon, and rubber chew toys.
- Go for professional cleaning
Even if your dog’s teeth look clean, it’s important to make a regular trip to your vet’s office for a professional cleaning. First, they need to be examined for signs of tartar and other oral diseases, after which they will be treated if detected. You might think this is something that anyone can do, but a vet is experienced in preventing and locating any issues that might go unnoticed by even the most dedicated dog owner. Your dog needs regular oral examination every six to 12 months for wellness, and if any oral problem is detected, your vet will likely recommend a dental cleaning for your pet.
Like humans, dogs have oral care problems when their teeth are not properly taken care of, but you can help your dog maintain proper oral care by applying these tips.