How to improve your dog’s dental health

Brushing our teeth is instilled in us from a young age. Twice a day. Two minutes of scrubbing. Good to go.

Forgetting to brush rarely happens and when it does, it’s quickly rectified, running to our toothbrushes like they’re water after a drought.

So why do we not make more of an effort to keep our dog’s peggies as clean and healthy as possible?

Why should you look after your dog’s oral health?

Due to having a more alkaline mouth, dogs are five-times more prone to gum disease than humans.

In fact, 80% of dogs suffer some form of gum disease before they are three years old – not exactly surprising given 53% of owners said they have never attempted to clean their pooch’s teeth.

What many do not realise is that if left untreated, poor dental health can lead to much more serious health issues.

As well as tooth loss and abscesses, gum inflammation can cause bacteria to enter directly into the bloodstream and travel around the body. This can result in infections elsewhere, such as in the kidneys, liver, lungs and even the heart.

A dog’s white blood cells will also be working to eliminate this bacteria in the gums, yet over time this process can weaken the jaw bones, causing fractures and permanent jaw damage.

Signs of poor dental health

One of the key signs to look out for is bad breath, although this is often dismissed by owners due to dogs not exactly having a fresh-smelling mouth to begin with.

Other tell-tale signs are:

  • Swollen and bleeding gums
  • Loose and/or discoloured teeth
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Eating on one side of the mouth
  • Dogs not letting you touch around their mouth area

How to keep your dog’s oral health in top condition

Brush their teeth

It sounds like we’re stating the obvious here but brushing your dog’s teeth really does health keep plaque and dental disease away. The PDSA recommends doing this a few times a week.  

Make sure to buy a pet-friendly toothpaste though. The fluoride in human toothpaste can cause dogs gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhoea and vomiting, while an artificial sweetener called xylitol in some toothpastes is extremely toxic in canines.

Use dental treats and chews

Dogs love chew products, so why not get one that helps their teeth too?

Dental chews help to remove plaque and tartar through an abrasive motion on the tooth, all while your pooch is gnawing away.

Be careful though. Chews tend to be high in calories so make sure they are part of a balanced diet.  

Vet visits

Make sure your doggo gets regular check-ups. Vets will examine their mouth as part of a routine examination and will advise on what steps you or they need to take with regards to their dental health. In cases where hard tartar has built up, the vet may advise a scale and polish under anaesthetic.