February is National Pet Dental Health month. Now is the time to learn about how dental health can affect your dog’s overall health.
It is more than bad breath— if your dog’s teeth are in poor shape it can also be affecting her health. Large amounts of bacteria in your dog’s mouth can get into your dog’s system and have detrimental effects on organs, including the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver. Not to mention that bad dental health can lead to expensive vet visits to extract damaged and decaying teeth.
To prevent future health issues that need not occur, start with a good oral care routine for your dog. If you are not sure how bad your dog’s teeth really are, schedule a dental exam with your vet. They may recommend a dental cleaning, which may require anesthesia. If anesthesia makes you nervous, or you have an older dog, there are options for anesthesia free teeth cleaning. However, only doing anesthesia free teeth cleaning can have its own set of issues (see article: http://wellpets.com/anesthesia-free-vet-dentistry/). I recommend a good preventative routine along with dental care provided by your veterinarian.
For a good at-home routine, brushing your dog’s teeth will be important. You can use a finger brush, or a soft bristled tooth brush (most vets will have these for free, but they are pretty inexpensive in stores). You can use toothpaste specially formulated for dogs (never human toothpaste!) or even just water if toothpaste makes them chew on the toothbrush rather than allowing you to brush their teeth. The important part of brushing their teeth is stimulating the gums. It is ideal to gently brush your dog’s teeth for about 1 minute every day, however if this seems too daunting for you, even brushing every other day will prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar. Brush the front teeth and both sides top and bottom in a back and forth motion, making sure to be very gentle.
Adding supplements to your dog’s diet will also help prevent plaque and tartar build-up. For my own dog, I use ProDen PlaqueOff*, which is powdered kelp that can be added to your dog’s food on a daily basis and works systematically by breaking up bacterial film that can accumulate on your dog’s teeth and gums.
Another product I use to keep my dog’s smile white and healthy is PetzLife Oral Care Dental Gel. This is a great and effective product that you can use several times a week as a preventative or twice daily for about 2-4 weeks if your dog already has some plaque build-up. I really like this product for its ease of use and effectiveness, however I want to mention that since it does have a small amount of alcohol in it, dogs tend not to love it. My dog definitely doesn’t love it, but he will still allow me administer it to his teeth and gums. We always end with a fun play session to make the process at least a little worth while for him.
Though a dental care routine for your dog will differ from your own, it is no less important for them. Start developing a routine today or contact your vet if you have concerns about the state of your dog’s dental health.
*Make sure to check with your vet before using ProDen PlaqueOff if your dog has a thyroid condition as this product is naturally rich in iodine.*