It’s probably not something you would normally think about, but you do it everyday – so why shouldn’t we take better care of our dog’s teeth, too? February is Dental Awareness month – for dogs, too! And believe it or not, your dog’s overall health can depend on the care of their teeth.
But as probably like most of us, we tend to be alert towards a problem once it has risen, rather than taking measures beforehand to prevent it. Whether it’s because of our busy lives, time constraints, and other priorities – nobody’s perfect. But as for something to think about – your dog’s teeth are a crucial aspect to their overall health. Here are 7 ways to take better care of your dog’s teeth in order to promote a happier, healthier, longer life for your pet.
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7 ways to take better care
of your dog’s teeth
Commit to manually brushing
Which is ludicrous and time consuming – I know. And not all dogs will welcome it. But if they can tolerate it, then why not? There are toothpastes specifically made for the dental health of your dog – like Virbac Enzymatic in Vanilla Mint – and if it’s something you can do everyday – why not your pet?
Get that yearly cleaning
Pricey, yes, but it’s one of those things where – once you get it done, you can’t stop going. Though a cleaning does absolutely wonders for your pet – many get it done once, then never go back every year. That route doesn’t do any good. The extent to the cost of the dental cleaning is the anesthesia – which puts your pet to sleep during the procedure – so there are places that do non-anesthetic dental cleanings (and only cleanings), which is another option to bear in mind.
Do the yearly wellness examination and blood work
And in order to even get that yearly cleaning for your pet, they need to be up-to-date on their blood work and have a wellness exam (all in preparation for going under anesthesia). Because if your pet’s health has declined, going under anesthesia can be risky. Having that information is a good indicator of your pet’s overall health, so really it’s a peace of mind to receive positive results each year (and totally worth the money).
Give them veterinary-approved dental chews and bones
With all of the above in mind, not everyone’s budgets align. Likewise, it’s important to do what’s best for your pet, and the best that you can do. Whether in between cleanings or foregoing, there are other ways to help maintain your pet’s dental health through special chews and treats. Most genuine are those vet recommended, such OraVet chews or Virbac C.E.T. chews. I give these to my fur-babies to help keep tarter at bay. They’re similar to a rawhide, so they’re meant for slow gnawing and chewing over time.
DISCLAIMER: Use of any chews and bones require close supervision at all times – as these are possible choking hazards. If your dog tends to chew through or swallow these treats too quickly – it’s best to eliminate giving to your dog and find another alternative in order to avoid further complications such as choking, blockage or GI issues.
Change up their food to dental-hygienic specific
Didn’t you know? There are specific foods for your dog’s teeth. Not all brands are made alike, but many are formulated for helping break down tarter build up and promote healthy gums and teeth. Brands like Prescription Diet and Hill’s Science Diet have dental specific foods for your pet. Check them out, and talk to your Veterinarian about switching!
Stop giving them table scraps and human food
This might not solve everything with your dog’s dental health, but it sure does promote it! The problem with human food is the amount of salt, sugar and possibly dangerous ingredients that could harm your pet. Off the top of your head – what are 5 foods toxic to dogs? I bet you can only think of one or two on the top of your head.
Sure, carrots make for a healthy snack for your beloved pet – but all in moderation, people. Avoid the times you feel guilty for eating chips on the couch as your pooch stares helplessly back up at you. Don’t cave, instead, say to yourself and your pet, “I’m doing this for you, because I want you to live a long, healthy life!”
Refrain from them chewing anything too hard, or anything they shouldn’t at all
Sticks, rocks, plastic – now I’m sounding like a crazy dog lady to the “Let your dog be a dog!” crowd, but really. There’s a fine line if we want our pets to live a healthy life, and cut down on any future health issues. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who walked into the Veterinary Clinic I worked at – unable to pay their bill, scrambling and begging for help, because their dog had ingested a tampon, sock, piece of a bone or stick, chocolate, or drugs (yes, and the illegal kind).
We’re aimlessly able to go above and beyond to keep things out of reach for our kids – dogs need that focus, too. They are just the same – they don’t know, they want what they want, and they’ll take what is accessible to them. With that in mind, pick up your socks, stash or store your used toiletries (such as diapers, pads, tampons, etc.) in a closed container under your sink, keep food off the table and counter and your medications up high. Make a habit to close your bedroom and bathroom doors to avoid your pet loosely having access to those areas. These aren’t drastic measures, as you might have the similar drastic measures for your child – right? I mean, c’mon now, houses are baby-proofed with outlet covers.
So while you might think just any raw bone is the perfect treat or chew to keep your pet busy and preoccupied – it’s not always the best for them (dental or health wise). That’s one step away from fracturing a tooth or swallowing a piece of bone (and you never knowing), causing an infection or blockage in their GI tract and leading to further problems down the road (meaning, $$$$ vet bills for an emergency procedure).
If you’re struggling with a destructive or heavy chewer, or needing ideas on what to give your dog that is safe, healthy and entertaining – treat dispensing toys are always my go-to. Here are a few ideas to get you started.