Your dog’s teeth require maintenance just as yours do. Although you may visit your dentist twice a year for routine appointments, you still likely brush at least twice a day and floss regularly. Many dog owners may neglect the at-home dental care of their pet, because they may not realize that it is needed.
Why does your dog need at-home dental care?
Dental plaque develops in a dog’s mouth as it does in a human’s. The plaque is a combination of particles of food mixed with oral bacteria. Because of acids released by the bacteria within the plaque, the sticky substance causes dental decay and gum disease when it is not promptly removed.
Oral bacteria release acid as they feed on particles of food left within your dog’s oral cavity. The acid inflames sensitive gum tissues, leading to periodontal disease. Initially, the inflammation may only appear as redness and swelling of the gum tissue. However, as it progresses, it can spread to the deep gingival tissues that surround the roots of your dog’s teeth.
What about professional dental cleanings?
Professional dental cleanings for your pet are especially important because they eliminate tartar. Plaque, if left undisturbed, develops into tartar. Although plaque is easily removed using at-home care, typically, tartar must be professionally scraped from the teeth.
Cleaning Your Pet’s Teeth at Home
There are several ways to help keep your canine’s teeth in great shape between veterinary dental visits.
Here are a few of them:
Brush with toothpaste for dogs.
It is best to use a finger brush designed to clean your pet’s teeth. To brush, apply meat or poultry-flavored toothpaste to your finger brush and rub the brush along your dog’s teeth. Brush the animal’s teeth at least several times per week.
For the best results, daily brushing is recommended. If your dog is not accustomed to having its teeth brushed, start the process slowly with an acclimation period. Rub the animal’s teeth with your finger daily for the first week or so. During the next week, use the finger brush. Finally, add toothpaste to the finger brush during the cleaning sessions. Toothpaste that is designed for your pet can be safely swallowed and does not foam.
Use teeth-cleaning chews.
You can also help keep your pet’s teeth clean by providing dog chews that are designed to clean the teeth. The chews can be offered a couple of times per week.
Usually constructed of rawhide, some chews include an antibacterial agent called chlorhexidine that is activated when your pet’s saliva makes contact with the product. Chlorhexidine is also used in antibacterial mouth rinses for humans.
Provide teeth-cleaning dog food.
Dental dog food has a fibrous texture that helps pull plaque and even some tartar from the teeth as your pet eats. The food can be offered as treats for your dog.
Although there are many types of chews and treats that can be purchased over-the-counter, many are ineffective at cleaning all the surfaces of your dog’s mouth.
To learn about the best products to use for your pet’s at-home dental care, contact our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Trussell!