As a pet parent, you want your dog to live a long, happy life, and having healthy teeth and gums plays a key role in the overall health of your dog. Poor dental hygiene can lead to many other health issues. About 85% of dogs aged four or older have dental problems, according to the Animal Medical Center of New York who reports dental disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats.
So what can you do to ensure your dog’s bite stays as strong as their bark? You can start by taking small steps to improve your dog’s dental health. One of the most beneficial ways to ensure less trips to the doggy dentist is by brushing your dog’s teeth. Here are some tips to help make your canine’s canines shine.
Begin getting your dog used to dental care as early as possible. Gently lift your dog’s lips and expose the teeth and then reward them with a treat. Start by using a rubber finger brush and a meaty or sticky treat instead of toothpaste. Put the treat into your dog’s mouth with the finger brush and once they have licked the treat off, rub the finger brush on their teeth. When your dog feels comfortable with the finger brush, repeat the same steps with the toothbrush.
Once your dog is accustomed to having the finger brush and toothbrush in their mouth and on their teeth, you can switch from using a treat to using a dog-safe toothpaste or gel; there are even dog toothpastes with flavors like beef or peanut butter. Let your dog taste the toothpaste before beginning, so they know what to expect. Never use a human toothpaste as it may contain ingredients that could upset your dog’s tummy.
Brush your dog’s teeth the same way you brush your own teeth. Gently brush the outside surfaces of the teeth and gum line at a 45o angle in a circular motion, making sure to reach the upper canine teeth and molars, focusing on areas that contain plaque. It’s also very beneficial to brush the inside surfaces of the teeth, although for some dogs this is too invasive and they may resist. Never force your dog to have their teeth brushed. Just take a break and give your dog lots of treats and praise for being brave.
Watch For Warning Signs
If you notice bleeding while brushing your dog’s teeth, consult a veterinarian as it may be a sign of gum disease or other dental issues. Other signs your dog may need to see a doggy dentist include loose, cracked or broken teeth, bad breath, abscesses, or teeth that have heavy discoloration or buildup.
The key to good oral health is prevention which is why regularly brushing your dog’s teeth is so important. Ideally, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth every day. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate dental cleaning schedule for your dog, both at home and professionally, and maintain that schedule.
The Diet Dental Connection
Making changes to your dog’s diet can help improve dental health naturally. Starch found in commercial pet foods causes tartar buildup which can lead to dental disease and mouth infections. Feeding your dog a raw diet can benefit their oral health. The crunching of a raw diet helps remove tartar and plaque and stimulates gums which increases circulation and strengthens teeth. Crunchy treats and snacks, like Bully Sticks and Duck Heads, promote healthy chewing and are an excellent source of protein and energy for dogs.
If you’d like to start promoting your dog’s oral health with raw food and treats, visit a local retailer and stop by a Vital Essentials RAW BAR to grab a few satisfying snacks that support healthy teeth and gums. Sink your teeth into the benefits of a raw diet by checking out our other Blog Posts. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and visit the Vital Essentials Website and enter your email to receive exclusive offers.