Dogs need dental care! Unfortunately, dental hygiene for dogs is sometimes overlooked. Many people seem to just expect dogs to have bad breath, and few people brush their dog’s teeth frequently or do not brush at all. Dental hygiene is just as important to your dog’s overall health as things like nutrition or proper exercise. Help keep your dog healthy and pay attention to those pearly whites!
1. The Breath Test
Sniff your dog’s breath. Not a field of lilies? That’s okay, a normal doggy breath isn’t particularly fresh smelling. However, if his breath is especially offensive and is accompanied by smell or iron (blood), a loss of appetite, vomiting or excessive drinking or urinating, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet.
2. Check the Mouth
Once a week, with your dog facing you, lift his lips and examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean, without any brownish tartar.
3. Signs of Oral Disease
The following are signs that your dog may have a problem in his mouth or gastrointestinal system and should be checked by a veterinarian: Bad breath, excessive drooling, inflamed gums, tumors in the gums, cysts under the tongue or loose teeth
4. Tooth Decay
Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause build-up on a dog’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. Only way to prevent this is by regular teeth cleanings.
5. Canine Tooth Brushing Kit
Get yourself a toothbrush made especially for canines or a clean piece of soft gauze to wrap around your finger. Ask your vet for a toothpaste made especially for canines or make a paste out of baking soda and water. Never use human tooth paste with dogs. Special mouthwash for dogs is also available at the vets or petshops.
6. How to start brushing
Taking these steps will make brushing a lot easier for the both of you:
First get your dog used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Massage her lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks. Then move on to her teeth and gums.
When your pooch seems comfortable being touched this way, put a little bit of dogtoothpaste or a paste of baking soda and water on her lips to get her used to the taste. Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for dogs. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger (or a clean piece of gauze) are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your dog’s gums (see video).