Your furry friend may not be prone to tooth cavities like human beings, but plaque build-up can turn into tartar which can lead to tooth decay or mouth cancer. In worse case scenarios, if the infection is left untreated, the bacteria could affect your dog’s heart, liver or kidneys. Most dog owners overlook the issue of regularly cleaning their dog’s teeth oblivious of the fact that they can also suffer from gum inflammation (gingivitis) which could develop into a serious issue. Starting early dog dental care will not only keep your pet happy, but it will also prevent emergency trips to the vet. “So, how do I clean my dog’s teeth?” Here are the top seven tips to clean your dog’s teeth and make it a fun activity.
1. Raw Bones Do the Work Naturally
Raw bones will clean your dogs’ teeth while also serving as food. Cooked bones have a tendency to splinter and your dog could try to swallow it without chewing, or it could get stuck on the gums. Gnawing on raw bones helps to scrape off plaque and other dirt. Consider using softer bones such as knucklebone and avoid harder bones from steak or rib as they could fracture your dog’s teeth.
2. Chew Toys Are Good Alternatives
Just like raw bones, chew toys are long-lasting nylon or rubber chews that don’t contain calories. They also do the job well considering that dogs love chewing. You can try to introduce the chew toys after a meal to help remove food particles, hence cleaning the teeth.
3. Find a Good Toothbrush and Toothpaste That Your Dog likes
When it comes to a toothbrush, get the one that best suits your dog, with an emphasis on soft bristles. Different toothbrushes are better for different dogs. Usually, the type of toothbrush you choose will depend on the size of your dog, your dog’s mouth and teeth.
For bigger dogs, go for the multi-dimensional toothbrushes with two toothbrush heads to clean both the front and back of the teeth simultaneously. Smaller dogs will do well with slim toothbrushes because they have smaller mouths and smaller teeth. On the other hand, explore different toothpaste flavors to find one that your dog likes. Dogs ingest toothpaste since they don’t know how to spit, therefore, avoid using regular toothpaste that contains fluoride because it’s toxic. When introducing it, let your dog taste a bit of the toothpaste and see how they will react before you start using it.
4. Introduce the Brushing Routine Early and Stick to It
Dogs are not used to their teeth being brushed and it can be tough at first, especially if they are older. The easiest option is to start when they are a puppy unless you adopted a dog that’s already grown. Nevertheless, you should start early but gradually so that the dog doesn’t feel threatened. Make sure you stick to the routine once the dog becomes comfortable. To make it fun, you can associate teeth brushing with a fun activity such as playing catch with the toothbrush. This registers the toothbrush as a fun item and the dog will be more receptive.
5. Use a Reward
A treat will always leave your dog happy and looking forward to the next task. Rewards vary and a show of affection and other treats, plus positive affirmations will do the trick. Make it a habit to shower praises on your dog after every brushing session.
6. Use Plaque Fighting Additives
If your dog doesn’t appreciate their teeth being touched, you can use water additives that help fight off plaque build-up. There are a variety of products you can use and it’s a good idea to get recommendations from your vet on the most suitable water additive. However, this method isn’t enough to prevent teeth complications. One way or another, you should try a different approach that makes your dog comfortable.
7. Avoid Starchy Chews
Most of the commercially available chew bones are made of starches like corn, rice flour or potato. Their biggest disadvantage is that they tend to be sticky compared to dried meat chews. This could further damage their teeth instead of protecting them. In addition to that, the ingredients used might not be good for your dog’s health.
Make regular appointments with a professional vet for routine dog dental care. Their oral health is just as important as any other health check if you want to prevent bad breath, fractured teeth, and tooth decay. Professional cleaning is a guaranteed solution for your dog’s teeth but it can be quite expensive. However, trying these tips can build a good relationship between you and your dog while ensuring a healthy mouth.