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Believe it or not, taking care of your dog's teeth is as important as looking after your own. Just like us, our dogs experience plaque build-up on their teeth. Plaque turns into tartar, accumulates around the gum line, irritates the gums and eventually leads to inflamed gums (known as gingivitis), which is the onset of gum disease.
Gum disease can become the root cause of serious issues as your dog ages. It can cause teeth to fall out and lead to bacterial infection of vital organs if bacteria gets into the bloodstream.
Taking care of your dog's teeth will not only lead to a healthier pet, but also help you avoid expensive dental bills.
So “how do I do that”? We hear you cry. Our four tips will help you ensure your dog keeps their pearly whites, healthy.
Tip 1. Tell-tale signs
Your vet will be able to spot any problems during your dog's annual check-up, but in between that time, here are some signs you should look out for:
- Yellow and brown tartar deposits on the gum line
- Difficulty eating
- Swollen and bleeding gums
- Bad breath
Remember, dogs can have bad breath for a variety of health reasons so don't dismiss a foul smell as plain old doggy breath.
Tip 2. Start brushing your dog’s teeth
In the same way you take care of your own teeth, regular brushing, a good diet and regular check-ups help keep your dog’s teeth healthy. Use toothpastes specifically designed for pets, they are safer than the ones we use, as these can cause distress due to the foaming and an upset stomach.
What about the toothbrush? Depending on the size of your dog's teeth and mouth, you may be able to use a regular toothbrush. There are specially designed brushes that fit on your finger to make brushing easier too.
However, you can always ask your vet for their advice.
Tip 3. A regular cleaning routine
Brushing is easier if you begin while they are still young, but a dog of any age will eventually get used to it. You should brush your dog's teeth at least once a week but once a day is best.
Always start with plenty of reassurance to help calm them down. Let them have a tiny taste of the toothpaste and then begin to gently brush their teeth in a massage-like motion. This allows them to get used to the sensation.
Brush in a circular motion, paying particular attention to where the tooth meets the gum. Then, when you're almost finished, brush vertically towards the inside of the mouth to clear any plaque you've dislodged. They might not like it at first, but be patient, you'll get there in the end.
Tip 4. Brushing alternatives
There are specially formulated dog foods and treats that can reduce tartar and avoid the onset of gum disease.
This is the simplest way of making sure your dog gets some form of 'brushing' each day. For example, our Hill’s VetEssentials dry pet food includes unique kibble technology that provides clinically proven cleaning action. You can always talk to your vet to see if they have a particular food or method they prefer.
Remember, keeping your dog's teeth in good condition is essential for their overall health.