Dog Dental Care At Home

Although dog dental care at home for dogs is a relatively new idea for many dog owners, it is nonetheless becoming a significantly expanding field of medicine.  This is owing to the fact that people are starting to be familiar with the value of offering their beloved pets longer—and healthier—lives. If you are unskilled in the notion of dental care for your dog, or if you are a brand new dog owner, then it will profit you to have an extensive comprehension of canine dental care.

Statistics

If your dog is 2 years of age or older, statistics say he already has plaque and tartar build up on his teeth and probably needs a dental cleaning. If he’s over 6 years of age, he’s also likely to have periodontal disease. How will you know? Bad breath is often the first warning sign of inadequate oral health care. Isn’t bad breath normal in dogs?

Unfortunately, bad breath among our dogs is so prevalent that it is common for dog owners to believe it is normal. However, the real reason that so many dogs have bad breath is simply dirty or infected teeth and gums. The problem begins when plaque and tartar are allowed to build up on your dog’s teeth. Plaque harbors the bacteria, which can infect gum tissue and the roots of the teeth. As periodontal disease progresses, gums begin to bleed, bacteria starts to grow in the pockets created around the teeth, and this infection can then travel into the bloodstream where it can affect the heart, liver, and kidneys. Chronic periodontal disease often results in the loss of supporting muscle and bone structure and the teeth eventually fall out.

Common Issues

Although dogs are different than humans in almost every way imaginable, we do share a few common issues.  As a human, you acknowledge that brushing your teeth regularly, going to the dentist periodically, and general oral care are a very important part of your mouth’s health.  Believe it or not, dogs require some of the same care on a regular basis.

Just like ours, if a dog’s teeth are uncared for, over time, they will begin to deteriorate.  Again like us, poor dental care will cause pain, discomfort, and even illness for a dog.  This generally occurs in three distinct stages:

Plaque accumulates on the teeth.

This is basically the breakdown of sugars and other food particles on the teeth/gums, and it produces bacteria.  This is occurring continuously, but is decreased somewhat by eating particular foods, chewing, and drinking water.

Plaque hardens into tartar.

Tartar is an extremely hard, mineralized material that attaches to the teeth.  The tartar build-up ultimately brings about gingivitis, a disease recognizable by red or inflamed gums, terrible breath, and infrequently bleeding gums.

Periodontal disease sets in.

When tartar reaches a certain level, it begins a slow spread under the gums, forming pockets between the teeth and gums.  These pockets are prime environments for bacterial reproduction.  The damage done from periodontal disease cannot be undone, and normally includes abscesses, infections, and even tooth loss.

The most important danger with periodontal disease is the potential for bacteria to pervade the bloodstream.  If this comes to pass, the dog could be exposed to infections in the cardiovascular system and kidneys.  The older a dog is at the time of the onset, the riskier this condition becomes.  Your dog can die from complications arising from poor dental health if the condition is left untouched.  That’s why appropriate dental care for your dog is so crucial.

Dog Dental Care At Home

Your dog’s dental health care starts at home.  You ought to give your dog frequent oral exams; if at all possible each day for active dogs or dogs who chew a great deal.  Search for symptoms of disease or injury: discolored or bleeding gums, chipped or fractured teeth, inflamed lips or gums, and so on.  Anything unusual should be brought to your veterinarian’s attention.  Next, brush your dog’s teeth daily.  You can find materials to do this at any pet store, online, or by way of your veterinarian.  Give your dog toys and food that will assist with tartar prevention, especially snack food such as dog bone treats.

No other type of home dental care can beat a toothbrush and toothpaste. That’s because you can reach back molars as well as canines–something other chewing devices cannot adequately cover. Many dogs like the taste of pet-formulated toothpaste and will agree to brush when there’s a tasty incentive involved! Please do not use human toothpaste or baking soda on your dog. Human toothpaste contains ingredients, which may cause gastric upset and foaming in the mouth. And the high sodium level of baking soda may cause problems in some dogs, especially those with a heart condition. – See Brushing Video

Diet

A diet of dry food is better than moist food because it doesn’t stick to the tooth surface as easily. This does not mean that just any dry food or crunchy treat will clean your dog’s teeth! They simply decrease the accumulation of tartar build up better than canned food. We covered  The Nutritional Requirements For A Dog here.

Another great way to help keep your dog’s teeth clean is to offer chews as a treat.

New Puppy?

If you have a puppy, now is the best time to start home dental care. Older dogs need a gradual introduction, starting with simply handling the mouth, and slowly moving to toothbrushes and water. Who is at the most risk for dental problems? Dogs that eat soft food rather than dry kibble.

Breeds

Small breeds of dogs tend to have more problems than large breeds. Breeds of dogs with a lot of muzzle hair such as poodles, schnauzers and terriers. Breeds that tend to open their mouth to breathe are more prone to tartar because their mouths become dry. Dogs that chew on hard objects can suffer fractures in the tooth enamel and/or broken teeth. Developing teeth in puppies are susceptible to damage from viruses and drugs. Signs and Symptoms of Poor Oral Health Persistent bad breath. Sensitivity around the mouth. Pawing at the mouth. Loss of appetite. Plaque (may not be obvious). Bleeding, inflamed gums. Tartar (creamy brown, hard material coating on teeth). Loose, missing or infected teeth.

Vet Visits

Besides frequent home exams and care, your dog needs annual or bi-annual vet visits.  Your vet will undertake routine dental cleanings, which will include the following:

  • An oral exam.  More thorough than the daily one we can do from home.
  • X-rays.  These will check specifically for anomalies that might not be caught otherwise, and are used to ascertain whether the teeth are healthy enough to handle thorough cleaning.
  • Either ultrasonic or manual cleaning, depending on the veterinarian’s preferences. Anesthesia is typically used to keep the dog still and relaxed, and it is a vital part of removing plaque that has already built up on the teeth and under the gum line.
  • Tools with rotary brushing heads remove scratches and similar surface imperfections that are ideal bacterial breeding grounds.

Dental Insurance

By being responsible to care for your dog’s dental health care, your pet is given a longer, healthier, and happier life in the long run.  Dental insurance is even offered for your dog in order to support dog owners in the fight against tooth decay, tooth loss, and periodontal disease.  Get a quote from your current health or dental insurance provider, or simply type “Pet Health Insurance” into your chosen search engine to find out more details.  Most importantly, don’t disregard those daily brushings; your dog will thank you for them!