February is National Pet Dental Health Month!
When was the last time you brushed your dog’s teeth? While it may seem silly to brush an animal’s teeth, it is actually very important to their overall health. Not only can bad teeth and gums cause bad breath, but they can also cause other health issues. From infections to painful abscesses, poor oral hygiene is a serious issue. In honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, Happy Hound has some tips for keeping your dog’s mouth clean and healthy.
What to Look For
While it is normal for dogs to have crooked teeth that are not pearly white, they should still be generally free of brown plaque and tartar. Healthy gums are pale pink and have a sharp edge where they meet the teeth. Inflamed, swollen red gums are a sign of dental disease and gingivitis. If they are bleeding, your dog may have more advanced periodontal disease. If teeth are falling out and they are not a puppy, it is time to visit the vet.
Other signs of dental disease include:
- Bad breath
- Poor appetite
- Only eating on one side
- Pain around their mouth
The easiest way to care for your dog’s dental health and prevent more serious issues is to brush your dog’s teeth daily. Yes, this sounds like a lot of work and many dogs are not going to be excited by this new activity, but, like trimming their nails, they can be trained to behave. Be patient, use treats and take breaks when needed.
There are doggie toothbrushes and brushes that fit over your fingertip. Only use dog-specific toothpaste, as human toothpaste may be toxic. Plus, dog toothpaste tastes like bacon or chicken which can help your dog enjoy the process more. And they use special enzymes to keep working, even after eating treats.
Dental treats or chews are an easy way to help prevent tartar buildup, and your dog sure won’t complain! There are also dental toys that help scrub teeth while your dog chews. However, they will not replace regular brushing but are useful in prevention and maintenance.
If you have never brushed your dog’s teeth, it is best to have your vet look at their mouth to determine if a professional cleaning is needed. You can then start brushing their teeth to maintain their newly cleaned mouth. While dental treatments can be expensive, they will save you time and money down the road. Plus, your dog is less likely to suffer the ill effects of dental disease.
Smaller dogs and dogs with narrow skulls tend to have the toughest time with dental issues. Small dog owners are probably familiar with missing teeth and bad breath! However, all dogs need regular dental care. Just like us, plaque builds up daily and needs to be removed daily before it turns into tartar, which is much harder to remove.
If you have a puppy, start brushing their teeth as soon as you can. They will get more accustomed to the experience, and it will become easier the older they get. Older dogs can still learn to handle brushing, but you can get professional help from Happy Hound! We offer Bath & Howl Day Spa services that include bathing, grooming, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing. While it is not realistic to bring your dog in every day for teeth cleaning – unless they are here for Doggie Day Care! – it is a great service for people new to dog teeth brushing or those who want to get a thorough job done.
This February, commit to taking care of your dog’s oral health. While National Pet Dental Health Month is once a year, oral hygiene is a daily ritual. So stock up on doggie dental treats, dog toothpaste and try out a finger brush. Or bring your pooch to Happy Hound for a Doggie Spa Day and thorough teeth cleaning to get you started off on the right paw.