There’s nothing like a big whiff of foul doggy breath to mess up a beautiful moment between owner and pet. And if you’ve ever smelled the sweet scent of puppy breath as a comparison, there just is no comparison. Give me puppy breath all day long!
To Promote Dog Dental Health, You Should:
Brush DailyI know, brushing daily for a dog seems a tad excessive. But it makes perfect sense when you really think about it. A dog’s mouth isn’t much different from your own, and just like yours, clean and healthy is the name of the game. Daily brushing can keep your dog's mouth free of food debris, plaque and tartar build-up, and gum disease. Just remember to focus most brushing to the cheek areas, which is where plaque on the teeth builds up the heaviest.
Buy a Good Dog Tooth Paste
Obviously, you don’t want to brush your dog's teeth with your toothpaste. Not only will he not like it, but it could be toxic because of the fluoride content. Instead check out your local pet store for toothpaste made just for dogs. You’ll find pastes with flavors such as peanut butter and chicken, much tastier than your wintergreen. Your furry friend will thank you.
Use the Right Tools and Proper Technique
Ideally you should probably just start with your finger and toothpaste. Rub along your dog’s gum line and against his teeth. This should be a daily routine so that your dog gets used to it and submits peacefully. When your dog has become used to your finger, you can transition to an animal toothbrush and begin to gently brush your dog's teeth. You can also use a child's toothbrush in a pinch, or even try one of the little rubber finger brushes. Those could be even more ideal, since your dog will already be used to your finger in his mouth. Brush and massage your dog’s gums and teeth for at least a minute or more and remember to pay special attention to the areas alongside your dog's cheeks. Use small, circular motions, and lift your dog's lips where needed. If your dog is opposed to you brushing the insides of his teeth, don’t sweat it. Most build up happens on the outside.
Consider Whole FoodsAgain, dogs aren’t terribly different from humans. They thrive under good conditions, with good food. Whole foods are healthy and nourishing, which is great for your dog’s teeth as well as his body. Try grain-free, as grains tend to stick to the teeth more, and feed your dog foods made from real meat, veggies, and fruits. Sound familiar?
Offer Veggie and Fruit SnacksSpeaking of good food, try offering your dog real fruits and veggies as a snack. Dogs tend to love people food, and more often than not will eat just about anything. Offer your pooch healthy options like apples, pumpkin, squash, and even carrots. Foods like this can also help remove some excess food from your dog's teeth because of the ‘crunch’. Just don't overdo it with snacks and the treats, as your dog still needs his normal healthy balanced meals.
Chew ToysBelieve it or not, those rubber chew toys your dog loves can help support his dental health! Offer them a small rubber chewing ball or other toys made of hard rubber. These are good for helping keep teeth clean, but they aren’t so hard it will cause damage to your dog’s teeth or break fragile bones.
Routine Professional Dental CleaningIt might be a no-brainer, but you should take your dog for regular professional cleanings, even though you brush them yourself every day. This is especially important if your dog shows any signs of gum disease, because you want to do everything you can to prevent its progression. If your dog does not yet have gum disease, prevention is the name of the game, and regular oral exams and cleanings are one of the best ways to do so.
Tartar Control TreatsSometimes you can find canine dental treats that help control tartar build up in your pup. Just be diligent because not every product claiming to control tartar does the job. Also keep in mind that these products should not replace regular, daily brushing. You can’t rely on food, treats, and toys for healthy teeth and gums.
Regular Gum Checks and Breath Assessments
Every week, check your dog’s teeth and gums. Healthy teeth and gums should be white and pink. Unhealthy teeth and gums will be discolored to yellow or brown, and gums may look white or red. Sometimes they may look swollen. This is the start of gingivitis and it’s important to get your dog on a treatment plan right away so that it doesn’t progress. You should also do the sniff test of your dog’s breath. Some odor is fine, but if your dog’s breath is especially foul, and if there are other signs like appetite loss or vomiting, it’s time to get him checked.