It is a Universal acknowledgment that dogs may benefit from having their teeth brushed.
The hard part: going from knowing to doing. Few of us have the time, discipline – or the cooperative pet – to brush teeth on a daily basis.
While brushing may slow down the buildup of plaque and tartar, there are other things you can do to promote good oral health in your pet.
Here are our top five tips for keeping on top of your dog’s oral hygiene!
1. Clean teeth without a toothbrush
Most pet owners worry about dental care when their dog is an adult. Introducing tooth brushing to an adult is a lot more difficult.
It is easier to start during puppyhood.
Avoid a power struggle with your dog. We recommend leaving the toothbrush for later and trying a gentler approach instead.
A soft and damp washcloth or a gauze pad, are excellent alternatives to using a conventional toothbrush.
Many dogs find these less frightening and may be more cooperative. Introduce the cleaning routine gradually and in a positive manner. Don’t be tempted to clean the entire mouth in one go. Keeping it short. Reward your dog with a healthy treat after each session and success is yours.
Is your dog ready to graduate to the toothbrush? Great! Make sure you use a moistened brush with soft bristles.
Specially designed toothbrushes for dogs are available, but a soft children’s toothbrush will work too.
Dogs don’t know how to rinse and spit, so never use toothpaste meant for humans. Human toothpaste may contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Toothpaste adapted for dogs come in a wide variety of flavours to suit any dog’s taste.
2. Take preventative action
Some dogs (like my dog) are never comfortable having their teeth brushed/cleaned, despite your best intentions and skill level.
You need an alternative strategy for controlling plaque and tartar.
Well-known oral health product for dogs and cats is ProDen PlaqueOff® Powder. It is a 100% natural supplement made from a specific kelp. PlaqueOff is proven to reduce the formation of plaque and soften existing tartar. Simply use once a day, every day.
PlaqueOff is designed as a complement to tooth brushing. However, it improves oral health and works also when brushing teeth isn’t an option. It is free from additives, artificial preservatives and sugar. The small dose is perfect to slip into food for health-conscious dog owners.
A small amount of powder is added to your dog’s food once a day, every day. The result: cleaner teeth and a fresher breath in just a few weeks.
Visible effects are noticed for as long as PlaqueOff is being used.
3. Pay attention to ingredients
Some dogs that are prone to developing excessive plaque and tartar. Switching to a BARF diet might be a solution.
Followers of BARF (an acronym that stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) claim:
- Dogs eating a fresh or frozen raw food diet have significantly less plaque and tartar buildup.
- Visits to the vet for dental cleaning are a rarity.
Deciding on what diet is best for your dog can be difficult. There are many factors to consider.
Generally, foods high in sugars and starchy carbohydrates are nutritious for oral bacteria, speeding up plaque and tartar growth.
Treats usually fall into this category. Choose treats carefully especially if your dog gets treats regularly.
Crunchy vegetables, such as carrots and celery, are healthy options that dogs eat easily.
4. Check for signs of dental disease
Detecting dental disease is often difficult. Oral health problems can often go undetected. Once discomfort is observed, the problem is already advanced. Regular veterinary oral health checks can prevent dental disease from escalating.
Look out for these symptoms of dental disease in your dog:
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums
- Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
- Reluctance to accept hard treats or play with chews
- Loss of appetite
- Head shyness (your dog disliking being touched on the head)
- Pawing at mouth
- Nasal discharge and sneezing
- Discoloured or loose teeth
- Bad breath
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not normal for a dog to have a smelly “doggy breath”.
The most frequent cause of bad breath in dogs is periodontal disease. This is a bacterial infection of the supporting structures of the teeth. The good news is that it can be prevented, treated and even reversed if caught early.
Untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and damage to organs like the heart and kidneys.
Always visit the vet if your dog has persistent bad breath!
5. Every dog and cat deserves a Veterinary Oral Health Assessment!
Most dogs 3 – 5 years of age and older benefit from Veterinary Oral Health Assessment.
This is true regardless of diet and the home dental care.
Your veterinarian can safely check each your pet’s teeth and gums through a combination of dental probing and x-rays.
Ultrasonic scaler or hand instruments are used to clean under the gumline. This is also the most critical part of treating periodontal disease.
Home dental care along with trusted dental health supplements like PlaqueOff Animal leads to easier Veterinary checks.
These checks help your veterinarian to discover problems such as fractured teeth, infections and oral tumours. These may otherwise go undetected.
Good oral hygiene is a vital part of a dog’s overall health and wellbeing. By looking after our pets’ teeth, we can help them live longer and happier lives.