Updated: Mar 5, 2020
You may have heard in the past "A dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's mouth." That couldn't be further from the truth!
Did you know that Periodontal (dental) disease is the most common disease seen in adult dogs and cats? Taking care of your pet's teeth can add 2-4 years to its life. Many people overlook this important part of keeping their pet healthy and don't realize there is a problem until it's too late. Here are a few simple ways to add years to your dog's life.
Dental under Anesthesia.
It is not ideal to have your dog go under anesthesia for anything unless absolutely necessary. It can be a frightening experience, but veterinarians are all very familiar with dentals and I think that this is an important thing to have done every so often.
Oakley had his 1st dental at 6 years old because his teeth have always been in such great shape. He honestly did not even need to have it done, but he had to go under anesthesia for a toe surgery and I chose to have it done since he was already under.
Tucker has two broken molars and I needed to make sure they didn't need to be removed. He has had several dentals over the years and I always need to keep a close eye on his teeth since a few of them are broken. Getting your dog's teeth examined by a veterinarian is extremely important. Even though your dog's teeth might look great, many things such as decaying roots cannot be detected without X-rays and an exam by your vet.
Many people give their dogs hard bones to chew on, but I have removed all hard bones from my house. I believe these might have been one of the reasons why Tucker managed to break his two back molars. Hard chews such as antlers were something I used in the past. The hardest chew I give my dogs now are bully sticks.
It is important to note that not all chews are created equal.
Many brands market "dental chews for dogs" that are full of ingredients that are not healthy or beneficial to your dog. This is why I LOVE the dental chews, SmartMouth by The Missing Link. It is made with unique bristle ridges and Stay-C™ (a patented form of Vitamin C) help fight plaque and tartar buildup while deep cleaning teeth for fresh breath. It has added glucosamine to help support mobility and hip & joint health as well as balanced omegas promote healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Nothing can replace Brushing
Even though providing dental chews are a great way to keep your dog's teeth clean, there is nothing that can replace actually brushing your dog's teeth. It's important that you continuously check your dog's teeth and gums to ensure that there is no tartar building up. Because I regularly check my dog's teeth and brush them, I was able to notice when Tucker had chipped his back molars and to keep a close eye on them.
When getting your dog accustomed to brushing their teeth, make sure to start slowly and with something that tastes good to the dog. Dogs generally don't like the taste or smell of peppermint. Try to find a toothpaste your dog likes. My dogs enjoy most chicken flavored tooth pastes.
I find it helpful to have my dog's tooth brush out on the counter where I can see it before bed. This helps me make a routine of brushing their teeth after I brush mine (just be careful not to switch up the toothpaste... That will NOT taste good to you, haha!)
Not sure how to start?
Here is a video Tucker and I made on conditioning your dog to brushing their teeth:
Something is better than nothing.
If you take anything from this post, I hope it is just to realize how important it is to take care of your dog's teeth. An added bonus to making the time to take care of your pet's teeth is that they will no longer have stinky breath!
Don't try to do everything all at once. Just taking a few minutes a day to start incorporating better doggie dental hygiene is a great way to get started.
Do you have ways you help your dogs have clean teeth? Please let me know! I'd love to share them and learn new ways and cool products you use for your pets.