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How To Care for Your Dog’s Teeth

April 1, 2024

Did you realize that dogs can have many of the same dental disorders as humans? Toothaches are equally uncomfortable and harmful for dogs as they are for humans. In some ways, they are even more severe: your pet has no way to take care of his own teeth, he can’t schedule an appointment for himself, and he is unable to even tell you what is wrong. In this article, a local Hudson Valley, NY veterinarian discusses several common dental concerns in dogs and offers advice on how to care for your pooch’s teeth.

Signs Of Dental Problems In Dogs

Fido cannot tell you when something is wrong, so you will need to keep an eye out for indications. Here are some of the major ones to look for:

  • Bleeding Gums
  • Tartar Buildup
  • Reduced Interest In Play
  • Visible Cracks
  • Bad Breath
  • Swelling
  • Ropy, Stringy, Or Excessive Drooling
  • Misalignments
  • Eating More Slowly
  • Preferring Soft Foods
  • Chewing On One Side Of The Mouth
  • Dribbling Food
  • Withdrawal/Antisocial Behavior
  • Not Wanting Face/Head Touched

If you detect any of these issues, contact your veterinarian immediately. Dental ailments can significantly impact Fido’s general health and quality of life—and they can also be deadly! As previously noted, there is a danger of infection. Plus, these issues can also impair Fido’s ability to chew and eat. This can lead to both nutritional deficiencies and an increased risk of choking.

What Dental Problems Are Most Common In Dogs?

Fido might suffer from a variety of dental disorders. Many of the typical dental problems that our canine companions face are remarkably similar to those that humans develop.

Here are some of the most common ones:

Gum Disease: Gum disease affects both humans and dogs. Approximately 80% of dogs over the age of three are affected. Although the illness is initially painless and asymptomatic, it eventually causes tooth movement and loss. It can also cause gum and bone loss. Even more concerning, it has been connected to a variety of major health disorders, including heart disease. That’s because infection can travel from Fido’s mouth to his essential organs, via his bloodstream.

Broken Teeth: Given that Fido plays with his mouth, this should come as no surprise. (His fondness for chasing sticks doesn’t help here, either.)

Misalignments: Your dog will still be adorable even if his smile isn’t straight. However, if your furry friend has an overbite or underbite, he may have difficulty chewing his food. Doggie dental care focuses on Fido’s health, rather than the appearance of his cute smile.

Overcrowding: This issue is prevalent in little dogs. Small breeds just don’t have enough room for all of those teeth! Overcrowding can cause or contribute to a variety of problems, including sinus infections. They may also interfere with your canine companion’s chewing abilities.

Abscesses: Hopefully, you will never learn this personally, but these can cause excruciating discomfort in both humans and canines. They are both exceedingly painful and dangerous. While any infection has the potential to be harmful, those in the mouth are especially concerning due to their proximity to the brain.

How Should I Care for My Dog’s Teeth?

Dental care is one of the most commonly overlooked components of pet care. However, taking care of Fido’s teeth does not have to be difficult or time-consuming. Brushing is the best choice, but it isn’t the only option. 

If that isn’t working out, you can also consider other dog dental care options. Here are a few others:

  • Dental treats and chews are designed to eliminate plaque, reduce tartar accumulation, and thereby protect against gum disease and infections. 
  • You can also consider using pet mouth rinses.
  • Dental flakes get sprinkled into your pet’s food. 
  • Another approach is to give Fido a chew bone, such as a Nylabone, coated in doggie toothpaste. 

Speaking of vets, it’s also important to have your vet check your dog’s teeth. Fido’s teeth should be checked at least once a year, beginning at age one. In between appointments, look for symptoms of dental problems. If you see anything awry, contact your animal clinic straight away.

Finally, make certain Fido has access to fresh, clean water at all times. On hot days, you can also give him some ice cubes to chew. Just don’t give him too many!

How Do I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

Although we have been providing our canine companions with chew sticks for some time now, brushing Fido’s teeth is relatively new to many pet owners. Of course, you’ll need to get your canine companion on board with the procedure.

Here are some suggestions for that:

Start Young: Introduce your furry friend to this process while he is still a puppy.  Ideally, little Fido will grow up believing that this is just part of being a good boy.

Ease Into It: Don’t just stick a toothbrush into your canine companion’s mouth and hope for the best. Get him accustomed to having his teeth and gums touched first. Use praise and treats in order to sweeten the deal.

Make It A Routine: Pets often thrive when they are on a consistent schedule. Take the time to brush Fido’s teeth every day. Once he’s used to the procedure, it should just take a minute or so.

Use The Correct Equipment: You can buy toothbrushes created specifically for Fido. Finger toothbrushes are also OK, and may be easier for you. Don’t use products designed for people, though. Our dental products aren’t designed to fit properly with canines’ bite angles. Furthermore, toothpastes made for humans may contain ingredients that are not suitable for pets.

When it comes to toothpaste, you might want to go for one that is flavored. This will make the encounter more enjoyable for Fido, and hence simpler for you.

Reward Your Puppy: Giving Fido a treat just after brushing his teeth may appear to defeat the purpose, but it can help your four-legged friend establish a positive impression of it.

Don’t Force It: Dogs can be stubborn when it comes to having their teeth cleaned. If Fido isn’t having it, don’t force the issue. This is not something you want to battle your pet on, especially with a larger dog. Consider alternative choices instead.

Are Chew Toys Good For My Dog’s Teeth?

They are … as long as you choose safe, appropriate ones. It’s also crucial for your canine companion to have appropriate chew toys. These scrape plaque and food residue away from your furry friend’s teeth, helping to keep them clean. They also increase the flow of saliva, which is beneficial to your pet’s oral health.

There are several factors to consider here. Bones, as you may be aware, are controversial. Although the old, iconic image of dogs joyfully gnawing on bones is very common, in reality, bones are neither suitable nor safe for Man’s Best Friend. Cooked bones can snap off into extremely sharp fragments. That is extremely risky. Not only are they serious choking hazards, they can also cause internal injury if ingested. Rawhide is also dangerous to many dogs for the same reasons.

Raw bones are less likely to break, but they can still be harmful due to germs and bacteria.  Ask your Hudson Valley, NY veterinarian for more information.

Do you have any questions about caring for your pet’s teeth? Have you seen any of the warning indicators listed above? Contact your Hudson Valley, NY pet hospital today.