by Audrey Harvey, DVM
Just like in people, dogs can develop dental disease, which can affect the health of their whole body. Over time, plaque accumulates on your dog’s teeth, and if it isn’t removed, it hardens into tartar. This leads to gum irritation and periodontal disease.
There are several options available to you to help keep your dog’s teeth and gums in good health.
1. Veterinary care. No matter what home care products you use, it’s a good idea to have your vet examine your dog’s teeth every year. They will take x-rays to make sure there aren’t any problems under the gum line, and clean and polish his teeth.
2. Toothbrush and toothpaste. Kissable toothbrush and toothpaste are specifically manufactured to be effective at cleaning your dog’s teeth. This toothpaste is pleasant to taste and doesn’t lather, while the toothbrush will clean all three areas of his teeth at once.
3. Herbal Remedies are more potent alternative to toothpaste and no toothbrush is required. Clean Well Dental Gel will clean the your dog’s teeth while preventing bacterial growth and reducing inflammation in his mouth. Keep this gel handy to use as a spot treatment on areas of swollen or red gums. The concentrated herbs in Clean Well Dental Gel coat the gums and teeth to soften plaque and reduce inflammation and damaged tissue.
4. Dental Wipes are handy if your dog really objects to having his teeth brushed. They contain herbs and baking soda to polish his teeth and reduce plaque accumulation. Wrap a Dental Wipe around your finger and wipe it over all the surfaces of his teeth every day.
5. You can purchase water additives to help keep your dog’s teeth and gums in good health. These work in different ways. Some contain enzymes that break down plaque. Others contain antibacterial enzymes to kill the bacteria involved in periodontal disease. They should not be used on their own to care for his teeth- they should only be part of a dental care plan which includes teeth brushing and regular checks by your veterinarian.
6. Dental chews. There are two types of dental chew available for your dog. The first is a hard rubber chew, that physically cleans his teeth while exercising his jaws. The second is beef hide that has been prepared with an enzyme to control bacteria, while its abrasive texture removes plaque before it hardens into tartar.
Raw meaty bones are no longer recommended by veterinary dentists. Bones can lead to fractured teeth and intestinal obstructions, which are painful and serious conditions. To keep your dog safe, leave the bones out of his diet and reach for the toothbrush instead.
The best way to look after your dog’s teeth is with daily brushing and twice yearly visits to the veterinarian. Any dental care regime must be comfortable for your dog and for you. If he doesn’t like his toothbrush, choose one of the other options listed to keep his mouth clean and healthy.