Any modern pet parent will know that supporting our canine’s happiness isn’t just about making sure they have a comfy bed or range of enriching toys; it’s about supporting their holistic health in all capacities. However, one aspect of canine health that often goes overlooked is their dental health.

Just like us humans go for regular checkups at the dentist, our dogs require regular dental care to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Neglecting this can easily lead to a whole host of problems, ranging from bad breath to serious dental diseases.

Today, we’ll explore the essentials of dog dental health and provide insightful tips to ensure your dog’s oral care routine is on track to protect their wellbeing.

Why Dog Dental Health Matters

Why is dog dental health so important? In short, healthy dog gums and teeth are essential for your canine companion’s wellbeing.

Poor dental hygiene can quite easily lead to plaque and tartar buildup, which can in turn cause gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss.

Additionally, bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect vital organs such as the heart and kidneys. So it goes without saying that maintaining your dog's oral health is not just about preventing bad breath but also about safeguarding their overall health.

Understanding Dog Dental Problems

Here are some of the common dental issues dogs can suffer from:

  • Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup
  • Periodontitis: A severe form of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss
  • Tooth Decay: Cavities caused by bacteria that destroy the tooth enamel
  • Broken or Fractured Teeth: Often due to chewing on hard objects
  • Oral Infections: Caused by untreated dental issues

It’s our role as responsible pet parents to be aware of and recognise the signs of dog dental issues early on. This way, any potential issues can be addressed before they develop into anything more severe.

Our advice is to look for key poor dental health symptoms, including:

  • Bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty eating, and
  • Pawing at the mouth

If you’re at all concerned about your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms, we’d recommend you contact a trusted veterinarian.

Dog with toothy grin

Preventing Dog Dental Problems

Prevention is always better than cure, and this particularly holds true for dog dental health.

Here are some proactive steps you can take to help mitigate and even prevent dental problems from developing for your dog:

Regular Brushing

Brushing your dog's teeth is one of the primary ways you can keep on top of your dog’s dental health and ensure a good dog oral care routine.

Just remember to use a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs, as human toothpaste can be harmful to dogs.

As a guideline, we’d recommend brushing your dog’s teeth at least two to three times a week. Start slowly to get your dog used to the process and gradually increase the frequency.

Raw Meaty Bones

Raw meaty bones, which are appropriately sized for your dog, can be a great way to help maintain their dental health. Unlike kibble, raw meaty bones offer several benefits for oral hygiene; the act of gnawing on raw bones helps scrape away plaque and tartar buildup from the surface of the teeth, promoting cleaner and healthier teeth and gums.

Additionally, the chewing action stimulates saliva production, which contains enzymes that naturally break down bacteria and food particles, further reducing the risk of dental disease.

Unlike kibble, which can easily crumble and stick to the teeth, raw meaty bones provide a natural abrasive texture that effectively cleans teeth without leaving behind residue.

Healthy Diet

Probably one of the most effective ways to support your dog’s wellbeing; a balanced diet is not only important for your dog’s overall health but also for their dental health.

Certain foods can contribute to plaque buildup, while others can help keep teeth clean.

Foods that can lead to an increase in plaque include:

  • High-carbohydrate kibble
  • Soft and canned foods
  • Some commercial dog chews and dental treats
  • Dog biscuits
  • Sugary and starchy human leftovers
Dog with clean teeth

Whilst foods that can contribute to keeping your dog’s teeth clean include:

  • High-quality, low-carbohydrate air-dried and freeze-dried foods
  • Raw diets and meaty bones
  • Raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and broccoli stalks
  • Raw fruit, such as apple with the seeds and core removed
  • High-quality, natural ingredient dental sticks

Ideally, look for dog foods that are designed to promote dental health and avoid giving your dog sugary treats.

Regular Vet Check Ups

If you don’t feel confident about assessing your dog’s dental hygiene, veterinary check ups can be helpful in maintaining your dog’s dental health. Qualified vets can perform professional cleanings and check for any signs of dental problems that you might not notice.

Generally, it’s recommended to have your dog’s teeth professionally assessed at least once a year. However this may be dependent on your dog’s personal needs.

The Role of Dog Oral Hygiene Products

There are a number of dog oral hygiene products designed to help keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy. These include:

  • Dog Toothpaste and Toothbrushes: As mentioned above, these are essential tools for regular brushing.
  • Dental Powders: These can be added to your dog’s food to help reduce plaque and tartar build up.
  • Dental Sticks: These can make an enjoyable treat whilst at the same time keeping teeth clean.
  • Water Additives: Similar to dental rinses, water additives are added to drinking water to promote oral health. Just be sure to avoid water additives which contain xylitol and chlorhexidine gluconate.

Using these products alongside regular brushing can significantly improve your dog’s dental hygiene.

In terms of dental powders, we’d suggest taking a look at VetActiv8 Dental Health, which features Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed and may assist with the prevention of dental disease.

Or browse the rest of our Dental Health range here.

Dog with clean teeth

Natural Dog Dental Care

You may prefer a more natural approach to dog dental care, and thankfully there are several options available.

As we mentioned previously, raw bones can help clean your dog’s teeth naturally by scraping away plaque and tartar. However, it’s important to choose the right type of bone for your dog’s size and chewing ability to avoid fractures.

Raw carrots and apples can also be used as natural dental treats, as they can help to clean your dog’s teeth whilst also providing a healthy snack.

The Importance of Professional Dog Dental Care

Whilst at-home dental care is crucial, professional dog dental care should not be overlooked. As we mentioned above, veterinarians have the tools and expertise to thoroughly clean your dog’s teeth and address any dental issues that may be present.

Professional cleanings involve scaling and polishing the teeth, similar to a human dental cleaning. This process removes plaque and tartar that cannot be addressed by brushing alone.

Tips for Maintaining Your Dog’s Dental Health

Now that you have an idea of the key ways to ensure your dog maintains good dental health, here are some additional tips to keep on top of your dog’s oral care:

  • Start Early: It’s much easier to introduce a dental care routine when your dog is a puppy, so if possible start when they’re young.
  • Be Consistent: Regular brushing and checkups are key to preventing dental problems from developing.
  • Use Quality Products: Invest in high-quality dental products specifically designed for dogs.
  • Monitor for Signs of Dental Issues: Keep an eye out for symptoms of dental problems and consult your vet if you notice anything unusual.
  • Provide Chew Toys: Dog-appropriate chew toys can likewise aid in keeping your dog’s teeth clean and strong.
Happy dog showing teeth

In Conclusion

Dog dental health is an essential aspect of our canines’ overall wellbeing. By educating yourself on the best ways to support your dog’s dental hygiene and implementing a consistent oral care routine, you can help prevent dental problems and ensure your dog remains healthy and happy.

Remember, a little effort goes a long way in maintaining those pearly whites!

By following these guidelines and using the right products, you can keep your dog's dental health in check and enjoy more happy, healthy years with your canine companion.

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