If you have a dog, you undoubtedly care deeply about their health and well-being. But lots of well-meaning pet owners skip over oral care either because they don’t think to check for it or they don’t think that their dog needs a lot of oral attention. But nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, dog oral care is super important and should be a regular part of your health checkups and discussions with your veterinarian. Let’s break down 10 key facts you should know about dog oral care so you can take care of your pup’s teeth and gums.
#1: Homecare is an Important Part of Dog Oral Care
Perhaps even more than regular vet visits, homecare is an absolutely crucial part of taking care of your dog’s teeth. Homecare covers every aspect of dental care, including:
- What you feed your dog
- How often you feed them
- Whether or not you use cavity reducing toys and treats
- How often you brush their teeth
- How often you take care of gum issues
In short, your dog’s dental care is much more determined by the efforts you make it home as opposed to what a veterinarian does.
#2: Your Dog’s Teeth Need Cleaning!
It’s easy (particularly for new pet owners) to just imagine that your dog’s teeth are fine on their own. After all, your dog doesn’t eat the same sugary foods that you do and they don’t normally complain about tooth issues by biting or grinding their teeth against things… well, aside from tasty bones!
But the reality is that your dog’s teeth need regular cleaning just like human teeth. Like our teeth, dogs’ teeth have enamel that is essentially set as soon as adult teeth grow in. Once that enamel is in place, it can’t be replaced if it gets worn down over time or through eating unhealthy foods.
The bottom line: you absolutely must clean your dog’s teeth regularly to get rid of plaque, bacteria, and prevent the spread of cavities.
#3: Tooth Cleaning Should Happen Daily
Furthermore, your dog’s teeth should be cleaned daily. The good news is that there are plenty of tooth cleaning tools you can use on your dog. For instance, Dr. Brite’s Tooth and Gum Cleaning Pen uses natural ingredients to get rid of cavities and fight off the symptoms of halitosis (bad breath). The soft silicone bristles are also much gentler on your pup’s gums than traditional hard-bristled pet toothbrushes.
Be sure to clean your dog’s teeth daily if recommended by your veterinarian, or if you notice that their breath has become bad and their teeth are significantly discolored (i.e. yellow or gray).
#4: Small Dogs Are More Likely to Have Dental Issues
Most dog lovers are already aware of the multitude of health differences between dog breeds. But you should be aware that small dog breeds are much more likely to have serious dental issues compared to larger breeds.
Why is this the case? Small dog breeds’ teeth are often unfortunately just a bit too large for how big or wide their mouths are. This isn’t always the case, and you should definitely ask a veterinarian, to see if this applies to your pup. But be prepared to do some extra teeth cleaning and visit a vet for dental stuff more often if you have a small dog.
#5: Gum Health Can Be Determined by Color
You can often determine the health of your dog’s gums just by taking a look at their color. Like human gums, any discoloration aside from a bubblegum pink color could indicate an infection or inflammation due to injured tissue.
The best way to check for issues like this is to examine your dog’s gums every time you give them a good toothbrushing. Poke and prod the gums here and there if they are discolored to see how long it takes for the gums to return to the bubblegum pink color. If it takes more than a couple of seconds, take them to the vet and have the veterinarian do an in-depth examination.
Colors you don’t want to see include black, gray, or bright red.
#6: Bad Breath is Often A Sign of Dental Disease
If you notice that your dog’s breath is really starting to stink, it might be a sign of dental disease. Halitosis in dogs usually occurs when there’s an excess of bacteria lining your dog’s teeth or comes. In this case, you may need to use a pet dental tool or oral spray in order to get rid of the bacteria and help your dog’s breath return to normal.
Dr. Brite has a great pet Oral Spray you can and should use. Like our oral cleaning pen, this spray only uses natural ingredients so that your dog isn’t harmed if they ingest a little of the spray by accident.
#7: Dental Diseases Can Begin Early
For many dog breeds, dental diseases begin really early in life. By the age of three, most dogs (and cats if you have both pets in your household) have some kind of dental disease. You can usually check on this by examining the teeth and seeing if there’s any yellow tartar buildup, or by checking the color of the gums.
Basically, we just want to reiterate that oral care is a lifelong aspect of pet health. Don’t start looking at your dog’s teeth only when they hit old age. By keeping their teeth and gums healthy over the long-term, your dog will be happier and healthier throughout their life.
#8: Dental Problems Must Be Taken Care Of – They Do Cause Pain
Although they can't tell you directly, oral diseases like gingivitis, cavities, and other types of gum disease can and do cause pain for your dog. This is why it’s crucial to get dental issues looked at and taken care of by a vet whenever you notice them.
Even though your dog may not complain about the oral disease that might be afflicting them, it will still undoubtedly make them uncomfortable. Do your due diligence as a pet owner and keep an eye on your dog’s teeth and gums as often as you can. Remember, your dog relies on you for their dental health.
#9: Most Pet Dental Cleaning Requires Anesthesia
When you do take your dog to the vet for any kind of dental cleaning, they’ll likely need to be put under general anesthesia. This is because non-aesthetic dentistry is usually unsafe and difficult for veterinarians. Anesthesia allows the vet(s) to carefully look at your dog's teeth and gums and remove plaque, cavities, or other issues without your dog struggling and potentially causing an injury by accident.
#10: Anesthesia is Usually Safe
Although plenty of dog owners are a little uncomfortable with the idea of anesthesia, it’s actually safe more often than not. In fact, your veterinarian will generally screen your dog with bloodwork and make sure that he or she doesn’t have any underlying diseases. Plus, a trained professional will monitor your dog during the anesthetic procedure to make sure your dog is always safe.
Overall, dog oral care is just as complex and encompassing as human oral care. It’s important to approach the subject with the same seriousness and research as human dentistry. With the right knowledge and dedication, you can make sure that your dog has a long and happy life and that their teeth are healthy even as they grow older.
Be sure to check out our supplies of pet oral care products and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you want to know more!