Canine dental care isn’t much different from human dental care. Canine dental care includes a good diet, direct care of the dog’s teeth and vigilance. It is also important that dog owners know the signs of canine periodontal disease in order to prevent infections. Brushing the dog’s teeth as well as offering a complete diet and appropriate chew toys and treats can go a long way toward avoiding canine dental problems later in your dog’s life.
Making canine dental care easy
The first step in providing good canine dental care at home is a good relationship with your dog. While petting your dog, ensure that you can handle your dog’s mouth. Besides making tooth care easier, this is simply good bonding practice. Use consistent and gentle touch around the mouth. Try this at quiet times rather than when your dog is boisterous and playful so that you do not inadvertently encourage nipping.
Once your dog becomes used to having his muzzle touched, move on to gently inserting your fingers in your dog’s mouth. Teach Fido to allow you to open the mouth. This is accomplished most easily by holding thumb and finger behind the canines and lifting upward. Be careful not to press down on the top of the dog’s nose. This blocks the nasal cavities and inhibits breathing. Shutting off the air may cause your dog to fight your grip, and rightly so.
Brushing your dog’s teeth
Once you can handle and open your dog’s mouth, you can begin brushing your dog’s teeth. Start slowly so that it does not become a bone of contention between you and your dog. There are many products on the pet market to help accomplish this task. Pads and brushes of various types assist in canine dental care. Never use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth! Human toothpastes are designed to be spit out, not swallowed. Dogs cannot spit, so the ingredients in human toothpaste may irritate your dog’s stomach.
Brush your dog’s teeth often
Though it sounds inconvenient, brushing your dog’s teeth daily yields the best results. Morning or evening dental care needn’t be a prolonged experience for you or your dog. There is no need to worry about brushing all surfaces – many dogs don’t tolerate prolonged dental care. Cleaning the outer surfaces seems the most important because this is the larger surface and food is more likely to collect under the gum line.
Many groomers now offer tooth brushing with the rest of the cleaning service. It may prove helpful to ask if your groomer can show you how this is accomplished. Be sure the groomer is not using human tooth paste and has experience brushing canine teeth.
The role of toys in canine dental care
Chewing is a dog’s natural way of cleaning the teeth, as well as relieving boredom. There is a reason for the large number of chew toys on the market. Saving furniture and shoes is only a part of the reason for dog toy sales. Chewing nylon chewies massages gums and strengthens teeth by stimulating blood flow. Rope bones and flosser-type toys help dislodge food particles as they scrape over the surface of the dog’s teeth.
Treats for better canine dental care
Hard biscuits help dislodge food particles. Chlorophyll canine dental care chews prevent bad breath by destroying plaque. Consider the produce aisle in your local grocery store as well – carrots are an inexpensive treat that help massage gums and strengthen teeth.
A note about chewies
Be aware that some chewies intended to assist in canine dental care have come under fire as choking hazards. Always buy the appropriate size for your canine friend. If you must leave your dog alone with a canine dental chew, be sure large pieces are unlikely to break off to become lodged in the throat. If rawhide is your choice of canine dental care chewie, make sure your dog is not the type to chew large chunks loose and swallow them. Those large pieces can swell and become lodged in the intestines. In fact, rawhide should be avoided if the dog must be left alone with a chewie.
Good canine dental care is as vital to your dog’s health as fresh air and exercise. Keeping a healthy canine mouth avoids infections and tooth loss. Caring for a dog’s teeth can even improve the human-canine bond.
Read on to learn about the signs of canine periodontal disease.