Dental Essentials for Dogs

Oral disease is the number one health problem diagnosed in dogs.

Keeping your dog's teeth strong is a very important part of her overall health care.  According to a study by the American Veterinary Dental Society, oral disease is the number one health problem diagnosed in dogs. Although regular dental checkups and professional cleanings are essential steps, home dental care has a major impact on long term dental health.
Take care of tartar
The combination of food debris, saliva and bacteria will form into plaque and in time will turn into tartar.

  • Left untreated, tartar can lead to gingivitis. If that is left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease, causing painful red swollen gums, bleeding, bad breath, receding gums, and tooth loss.

Get professional care
The first step in maintaining your dog's dental health is to have your veterinarian perform a dental examination.

  • If your pet's teeth are healthy, your vet will probably recommend a maintenance dental care program at home.
  • The vet's program will likely recommend that you feed your dog dry food as opposed to wet. The dry food will help keep the plaque and tartar build-up under control.
  • The vet will also recommend brushing your dog's teeth on a regular basis. Only use toothpaste specified for animals—human toothpaste will upset your dog's stomach.

Practice at-home dental care

  • When you introduce the concept of brushing to your dog, put him at ease by gently running your finger over his teeth.
  • You may even dip your finger in beef bouillon to make it more pleasant and palatable for him. Make the first few sessions short and give lots of praise.
  • After a few sessions, move on to using gauze or a soft wash cloth coated with some toothpaste. Be sure to continue praising your dog.
  • After your pet has accepted the gauze/wash cloth, switch to the actual toothbrush.
  • Always use a soft toothbrush designed for dogs or cats and gently brush his teeth in a circular motion.

Reward with chewables

  • Signal to your dog that oral hygiene is not entirely unpleasant by providing some pleasant chewables, such as rawhide and dental chew toys.
  • Choose dental chew toys that have raised nubs to stimulate the gums while your dog chews.

Maintaining your dog's teeth will help him stay active, lively and healthy. If you take the time to tend to your dog's dental hygiene and use this simple checklist, your dog's teeth should last a lifetime.