The Secret to Great Dog Dental Care

If you’re like a lot of dog lovers, you recognize the importance of a healthy mouth for your dog, but you might be a little confused. How often should you brush your dog’s teeth yourself vs. taking Fido to the veterinarian for professional teeth cleaning? Are there long-term health implications if you DON’T get your pup’s teeth cleaned regularly? Are there signs of dental problems you can look for in your dog's mouth? Great questions, all!

First, regular cleaning of your dog’s teeth is extremely important because periodontal disease is a leading problem for dogs. This causes gums to bleed and plaque to build up. If left untreated, it can lead to painful gingivitis (gum inflammation), cavities, and tooth loss. In other words, your dog is susceptible to all the things that people are when it comes to dental care. Periodontal disease is a problem for all ages of dogs, too, not just senior pets. In fact, it's estimated that 70-80% of all dogs have periodontal disease by the time they're 3 years old!

Yet, many dog lovers don't care for their dog's teeth regularly because they don't realize the importance.  Here's a quick way you can check.  Take a look at your dog’s mouth. Does he have ugly brown stains on his teeth? That’s tarter build up. How’s the doggie breath? Less than fresh? These are two signs that he could use a dental cleaning. Despite what you may have heard, stinky doggie breath is not part and parcel of having a dog. In fact, it's often an indication of a mouth filled with bacteria which can lead to infected gums, and that’s a recipe for pain, tooth loss, and other health problems (including kidney, heart, and liver problems). 


Dog Dental Care at Home

In an ideal world, you would brush your dog’s teeth daily. Of course, your dog may not agree that this is the ideal, so it might take some work to get him/her to cooperate. But hopefully, with a bit of patience and practice, you can incorporate this into your routine. There are a variety of dog toothbrushes and toothpastes on the market to help you with this. Dog toothpaste not only has enticing flavors like beef and chicken, but it also is made with ingestible ingredients that won't hurt your pup's stomach when he swallows it (and doesn't contain any dangerous ingredients like human toothpaste does).

We recommend starting slowly by rubbing your finger across your dog’s teeth with or without doggie toothpaste. You want to get him/her used to having your fingers in his mouth. Once s/he's used to your fingers, you'll introduce the toothbrush. This may take a few (or more) sessions and that's OK. On the other hand, if your dog is absolutely not having it, then you can talk to your veterinarian about alternatives.

The Veterinary Oral Health Council have created several PDF's with recommendations for chews and dry diets. There are also mouth rinses especially made for dogs. While these can help supplement the day to day care, they don't remove the need for professional cleaning.


Your Dog's Best Dental Health - A Happy Mouth!

How Often Does My Dog Need Professional Cleaning?

Your veterinarian will discuss a customized schedule with you, but the general rule is that your dog needs an annual cleaning. When you bring your dog in for his/her annual wellness exam, we’ll examine his/her teeth and look for any potential problems, such as lesions in the mouth, sore gums, or stinky breath. If you notice that Fido's showing any symptoms of potential dental problems, you should schedule a visit with your veterinarian, even if it isn't time for the annual wellness check. Thinkgs like appetite changes (especially if your dog doesn't want to eat), bleeding gums, broken teeth, or tartar build up are all signs that something is wrong. 


The secret to great dog dental care is to start when they're young and maintain a regular schedule of teeth cleanings. That way, you can reduce the risk of tooth decay and the accompanying pain. If you'd like one of our veterinarians to assess your dog's dental health, please contact us to book your appointment.


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