If you want your dog to have good oral and overall health, you’ll have to take on the somewhat daunting task of cleaning your dog’s teeth. The earlier you do this is the better for your dog.
The dangers of neglecting dog oral hygiene
According to a report by VCA Animal Hospitals, more than 8 out of 10 dogs suffer from dental diseases of which periodontal disease and fractured teeth are the most common.
If you don’t clean your dog’s teeth, bacteria will begin to build up a hard layer of plaque which will turn into tartar. This happens in as little as 24 hours and when tartar reaches the gums, it causes inflammation which leads to gingivitis. This damage, though reversible, can turn into an infection very quickly and can cause infection of the tooth socket and gums. The result is teeth falling out and bleeding gums.
Worst case scenario, these infections can travel to the heart through the bloodstream and can lead to kidney disease. To avoid this, brush your dog’s teeth at least three times a week. If you notice any black stuff, that’s plaque and tartar. This is different from the natural dark patches which occur.
Cleaning your dog’s teeth at home
Vets are experts at cleaning canine teeth, but you can’t go to the vet for a cleaning every week so you’ll need to learn how to do it at home.
You’ll want to familiarize your dog with this process and only attempt it at the most comfortable time. Remember it can be hard to get our pooches to sit still sometimes. Small breeds can be held in the lap, but for larger dogs, you’ll need to sit on a stool or chair.
Soothe your dog by petting his/her head then slowly lower your hand to the lips. If your dog gets riled up, just take a break and try again later. Once you are successful, slowly lift your dog’s top lips and rub your finger or cloth across the teeth. The gums are more sensitive so you will want to ease into that.
Once your dog is used to you in his/her mouth, introduce toothpaste and a toothbrush. Use a circular motion and check for bleeding. If so, adjust pressure, angle, or placement.
Signs of bad teeth
The signs of bad teeth in dogs are similar to those in humans and there are some things you should watch out for. These include:
- Changes in eating habits
- Changes in behavior
- Weird breath
- Discolored teeth and gums
- Swollen or red gums
- Frequent sneezing or drooling