Sure, dogs went thousands of years without teeth cleanings, oral examinations and routine X-rays. But so did people! While dogs don’t consume many of the cavity-causing foods that humans do, they still benefit from regular oral care for many of the same reasons that we do:
1. By the time your pup is 3, he or she will most likely already be showing signs of gum disease. Chronic infection in dogs can cause heart, liver and kidney problems, similar to the effects that humans experience when infections go untreated. Preventing these issues early on can save you a lot of money in the long run.
2. Pets don’t show pain from dental diseases. For this reason, if you don’t regularly check and care for your dog’s teeth, the problem will go untreated for far too long and your pet could develop a mouth full of abscessed teeth.
3. A dog with healthy teeth equals a dog with healthy breath. Just like humans, dogs need regular dental care in order to maintain good breath. This is reason enough to care for your pet’s pearly whites.
4. Neglecting your dog’s oral health can affect his/her growth and development. Without proper dental care, the process of losing teeth could be very painful for your dog. When your dog’s adult teeth don’t want to fall out for one reason or another, the results can be painful: gum irritation and tartar buildup.
5. Teeth can wear out. Your dog is rough on his or her teeth. Severely worn teeth can cause a lot of pain for your pet. It’s important that your dog continues to get oral exams because, again, dogs don’t show clear signs of oral pain, so they can be in pain for an extended period of time without anyone noticing.
Now that you’ve been convinced of the importance of taking care of your dog’s teeth, you might be wondering about the best course of action when it comes to canine dental care:
- Start young so that you can incorporate brushing into your puppy’s ‘good manners’ training.
- Look for an angled toothbrush made for dogs. To make the job easier, fingertip style toothbrushes are also available for purchase.
- Avoid using human toothpaste, as your dog will end up swallowing the toothpaste after brushing. Plus, canine toothpaste comes in poultry and seafood flavors that are appealing to your dog’s palate.
- Dogs greatly benefit from chewy treats that help keep teeth clean, and it’s incredibly easy. Look for a treat made with all-natural ingredients.
- Positive reinforcement is extremely important when it comes to brushing. Play with and pet your dog before and after brushing. You can also brush your pup’s teeth just before a meal so that positive feelings are associated with teeth cleaning.