Your dog’s teeth do a lot of work. Dog’s don’t just use their teeth for eating, they also use their mouth for play, tasting their surroundings and exploring. Their teeth and gums are just as vulnerable as yours to infections and disease as yours are, which means that they need to be looked after so they can carry as on as normal.
Looking after your dog’s dental health should be part of their overall care routine to help cut the risks of a serious issue and to keep their teeth nice and strong. Not only can bad teeth and dental health leave your dog in pain, but it can also put them off their food, affecting their health further.
In extreme cases, the bacteria generated by dental disease can actually enter their bloodstream, which can allow it to affect their liver, kidneys or heart. This is why you need to know what to look out for and how to help keep their teeth in tip-top shape.
What dental diseases are common in dogs?
Plaque is the most common thing to affect dogs’ teeth. This is when bacteria mixes with saliva and leftover food to result in a sticky film over their teeth. You’ll find that plaque is really common on their upper pre-molars and thair molars.
If you don’t clean plaque of their teeth, within 3 to 5 days, it will harden and turn into tartar. This can result in gum irritation, which in turn can cause gingivitis and bad breath. If left, the gingivitis can lead to severe swelling and reddening of your dog’s gums, leaving them in discomfort.
What are the signs of dental disease in dogs?
The first sign is one of the easiest to spot – bad breath. This is hard to ignore and is a sign that you should check their teeth. Other easy-to-spot signs include red, swollen or bleeding gums, uncharacteristic drooling and a build-up of tartar on the teeth – which looks yellow-brown.
Signs of more severe dental problems include your dog dropping food when they try to eat, only eating on one side of their mouth or avoiding food altogether.
What other dental problems can dogs have?
Just like people, dogs can deal with broken or fractured teeth, which can also be uncomfortable. Because dogs use their mouths for so much, they can break teeth on hard objects or simply while they are playing.
When you’re checking your dog’s teeth and gums for signs of disease, you should also keep an eye out for broken, cracked or worn teeth, as well as any lumps along their jawline.
How do you clean dogs’ teeth?
You should aim to give your dog treats and maintain a diet that looks after their teeth, as well as regularly brush their teeth.
Dog chews, dry food and certain toys – such as a Dental Kong – can help to reduce plaque build-up and help avoid dental issues. You can also add treatments to their water to further help with plaque reduction. However, they should be used to supplement teeth cleaning, which you should aim to do daily or at least 3-4 times a week.
When it comes to cleaning your dog’s teeth, it’s best to do so when they are calm and relaxed. As they get used to the process, they will be calmer throughout it but the first few times may be a bit difficult.
It is a good idea to start by using your finger rather than a toothbrush until they are used to the process. You should put some dog toothpaste – it’s important that you don’t use human toothpaste – on your finger to let them lick off so they can get used to it. If they are happy with the toothpaste, apply more to your finger and run it along their gum line gently.
Continue to do this for a few days to make sure they are happy before introducing them to a toothbrush. Again, you should use a toothbrush designed for dogs and let them get used to it by offering it to them with some toothpaste on so they can lick it and explore it.
You can then use the toothbrush on their teeth, starting with the front teeth. Brush in gentle circular motions and stop regularly so they can lick the brush in order for them to feel rewarded. When they are fine with you brushing their front teeth, you can start on their back teeth, making sure your stop regularly.
When should a vet check my dog’s teeth?
If you notice a large build-up of plaque on your dog’s teeth, you should get advice from your vet as they may need professional cleaning. Similarly, if your dog has broken or fractured teeth, lumps on their gums or a sign of infection, your vet should take a look to see if treatment is needed.
If you’re ever not sure about something relating to your dog’s teeth or you think there is an issue but you can’t see a cause, get in touch with your vet to ask their advice. Your dog needs their teeth, so it’s always better to be on the safe side.