Just like in humans, a dog’s dental health can greatly affect their overall health. Here are some ways to keep your pup’s teeth and mouth clean and healthy.
1. Smell that puppy breath!
While dog mouths don’t usually smell like roses, if your pup’s breath is particularly gross, it could be a sign of a problem. If bad breath is accompanied by a loss in appetite or excessive drooling, a trip to your vet is a good idea.
2. Take a look!
Just a regular visual inspection of your dog’s teeth and gums at home can help you to catch problems early on. Look for red or inflamed gums, loose teeth, and any masses on the gums or under the tongue.
3. Brush those teeth!
Brushing your dog’s teeth may sound difficult, but with the right tools and some practice it can be an effective way to keep her mouth clean. You can get a toothbrush made especially for dogs from your vet, or just wrap a piece of clean, soft gauze around your finger to do the brushing. Use either a toothpaste made for dogs or a paste made of baking soda and water – never use human toothpaste, as it can irritate your pup’s stomach.
First time brushing canine chompers? Here’s what to do to make tooth brushing a low-stress activity for you and your pup:
- First, get your dog used to having your fingers near her mouth – start by massaging her lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds every day for a few weeks.
- Next move on to massaging her teeth and gums without toothpaste, and finally put a bit of dog-formulated toothpaste on her lips to let her get used to the taste.
- After you’ve taken these steps, give brushing a try. Clean the teeth with small, circular motions, using either a brush or your gauze-wrapped finger. The side of the tooth that touches the gum accumulates the most tartar – if she will only let you brush for a short time, concentrate on these surfaces.
Do this two or three times a week to keep your pup’s teeth clean and her breath fresh.
4. A little more info to chew on!
Chew toys are great for lots of reasons, and a big one is dental health. Gnawing on a chew toy can help to strengthen teeth, massage gums, and scrape away soft tartar from the teeth.
These are only a few tips to help keep your dog’s mouth healthy – there is plenty more that can be said about dental care and teeth cleaning in dogs that couldn’t fit into this post. The most important thing you can do for your dog’s oral health is to look in their mouth. If you can catch a problem early on, you may prevent future disease and a lot of discomfort for your pup. As always, if you have questions or concerns, ask your vet!
Jackie D. is a dog walker for Running The Pack, a certified Vet Tech, and a graduate of the Veterinary Technology degree program at North Shore Community College.