I’m updating this post from last year in honor of Pet Dental Health Month. Just like with people, bad breath can be a symptom of tooth and gum problems so you want to take it seriously apart from just its general unpleasantness.
Over the years, I’ve definitely met some dogs whose breath was, shall we say, distinctly not minty fresh. Luckily, for dogs as well as humans, the old proverb holds true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
By taking some preventative measures, your dog can have sparkling pearly white teeth and fresh breath and you will save a bundle on veterinary dental bills.
Smelly breath is really the least of your problems when it comes to doggy dental problems. There can also be quite a bit of mouth pain involved and gum disease can lead to serious health problems such as heart, liver and kidney disease. Without a focus on prevention, by the time your dog gets to the point where he needs a tooth pulled, significant oral disease is most likely present which may or may not be confined to your pet’s mouth. Here are five of my favorite ways to keep your pup’s mouth happy and healthy:
Five Ways to Keep Your Dog’s Mouth Healthy
- Feed your dog a high quality diet that is appropriate for her size and stage of life. This enhances your dog’s overall health which also helps keep her teeth healthy. Gnawing on healthy food and treats acts as a kind of natural toothbrush. One of Jake’s favorite healthy chew treats is Whimzees. The alligator shape is his first choice.
2. Speaking of treats, offer a fully digestible, high quality dental dog chew to help control plaque and tartar. The effect is similar to chewing raw bones but safer for powerful chewers or dogs that have had restorative dental work done and can’t chew raw bones. In addition to Whimzees, Jake loves Dentastix (he even know that word), both of which can be found on Amazon.com.
3. If your dog let’s you, brush his teeth daily or every few days. If you’ve never tried brushing those canine choppers — or you’re not having much luck when you try — keep in mind that a little time, patience and persistence can reap tremendous rewards in terms of your dog’s well-being and healthcare costs. The earlier you start introducing your dog to the toothbrush the easier it will be but you can adapt a dog to having his teeth brushed at any age. There are a variety of products on the market to help you with this project including brushes and chicken flavored tooth paste.
4. Perform routine mouth inspections. Your dog can be trained to allow you to open his mouth, look inside and feel around for loose teeth or unusual lumps or bumps on the tongue, under the tongue, along the gum line and on the roof of his mouth. It’s also a good idea to check for ticks which can get inside your dog’s mouth. Don’t try it all at once if you’ve never done this. Start by getting your dog used to touching his mouth and then keep adding to the process until you can fully inspect his mouth.
5. Get your dog regular oral exams at her veterinarian who will alert you to existing or potential problems and may recommend professional teeth cleaning under anesthesia if necessary. These checks can be part of your dog’s regular checkup which is what I do for Jake.
Remember that you don’t have to do all of these things or do them all at once. I don’t brush Jake’s teeth because he can’t handle it. Instead, he has daily dental treats and I keep a close eye on his teeth to check for issues. Talk to your vet about the best plan for you and your dog.
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