A dog’s health goes beyond a balanced diet and plenty of exercise. Oral health is also just as important for dogs as it is for their human counterparts — and prioritizing your pet’s oral health doesn’t just lead to better breath. It can also deter more serious health issues, like canine periodontal disease and muscle damage.
If you don’t know where to start when it comes to healthy routines for your pet’s oral care, we’ve rounded up some starting points below.
Naturally, brushing your dog’s teeth is an easy first step. There are a few ways to make this a non-disruptive, easy process for a pet, especially one who might be confused by the activity at hand. The first is to find a delicious toothpaste your dog loves. Let them sniff the toothbrush, get acclimated with it, and even give it a few test licks or nibbles before beginning the brushing process. Secondly, it can also be helpful to engage in this activity when your dog is already more calm. Every pet is different, of course, but choosing a time when your furry friend is already settled will improve the experience for everyone.
Additionally, for dogs who have a harder time getting on board with teeth brushing, it’s ok to work up to it, a little more every day. Start with just a few brushes and build on from there.
Dental chews are another great way to improve your dog’s oral health. While these shouldn’t be utilized as a replacement for brushing teeth, they’re a great thing to also consider incorporating. Tap into your dog’s natural urge to chew and gnaw with dental chews, which have been shown to remove plaque buildup and tartar.
Consult your veterinarian, and remember that all dogs have different preferences, but most dental chews can be given to dogs on a regular basis (at least a few times a week).
Chew Toys + Bones
Similarly, great chew toys can achieve similar results. Bones, in particular, help to remove that calcified plaque that can be so damaging for pets. Regularly chewing on bones and other safe, man-made toys can help to broaden that window between deep dental cleans and vet visits.
Even puppies can enjoy the feeling of chewing on something — especially when very young dogs are teething, chewing on toys and bones doesn’t just feel good for their teeth. It also reinforces their curiosity and stimulates their developing minds. Often, for dogs younger and more mature, rotating through a series of toys will ensure that your four-legged friend isn’t bored, and remains invested in nibbling away.
A different approach to consider is in the form of dental sprays. Rather than spraying directly onto the teeth, dental sprays and rinses lead to cleaner and fresher breath by breaking down harmful plaques by mixing with a dog’s saliva. Some dental sprays can be sprayed directly into your pet’s mouth, like their own little dog-friendly Listerine, while others can be mixed with water. An effective dental spray or rinse will reduce slime and slobber, too, and will get you closer to minty fresh goals.
For a quick fix — again, not a replacement for brushing or any of the above methods — keep some dental wipes handy. Dental wipes aren’t necessarily new to the market, but they are a great option for dogs who just really hate having their teeth brushed. If you are a pet owner who wants to attempt daily maintenance on an uncooperative dog, wipes are worth considering. Keep in mind that they just aren’t as effective as brushes, though, especially in that essential area for dogs where the gum meets the tooth.
It might not seem obvious, but, believe it or not, your dog’s diet impacts their oral health, too. In recent years, a “raw” diet — aka muscle, uncooked meats, dog-safe vegetables, and some dairy products — became a bit of a trend, particularly in hopes that they could combat periodontal issues in dogs. However, most vets absolutely do not recommend pursuing a raw diet, due to the high risks of salmonella and other (often fatal) food issues. The raw diet can also lead to vitamin deficiencies — in summary, there are better ways to tap into your dog’s more base instincts than trying to get them on a risky, raw diet.
Rather, just focus on feeding your pet the appropriate portion of vet-approved kibble, or seeking out supplements that can be added to food or water to assist in minimizing damaging plaque and bacteria.
As always, here at Friday’s Dog, the safety of our furry friends is top priority. Our oral care products go beyond the basics, and will leave you and your pet prepared for plenty of kisses.