February is Pet Dental Health Month, so why not dedicate an entire post to keeping your furry friend’s chompers in tip top shape? While dental checks are just as important for our pets as they are for us, it’s something many pet parents don’t necessarily think about. The majority of dogs show signs of canine periodontal disease by three years old, according to the American Veterinary Dental College.
Dental disease can cause some detrimental health problems for our canine companions, so it’s crucial to be able to identify signs early on and maintain oral hygiene.
Recognizing the Signs
Animal instinct is not to show signs of weakness and dogs have evolved to hide chronic pain which is why it's essential to be familiar with your dog's mouth so you can recognize signs of trouble. The primary sign of early dental disease is bad breath, but since dogs don’t carry around toothbrushes and don’t have minty fresh breath, this often goes unnoticed by owners. Additional signs to watch for include:
Red or bleeding gums
Blood on a chew toy
Vocalizing when they yawn or eat
Lumps or bumps in the mouth
Ropey or bloody saliva
Head shyness (your pet not wanting you to touch their head)
Difficulty picking up food
Chewing on one side of their mouth
Discolored, loose, broken or rotated teeth
Taking Care of your Dog's Oral Health Taking care of your dog’s teeth is very similar to how you care for your own. Vets recommend the following steps:
Oral examinations, dental X-rays, and cleanings should be done annually. This is done under general anesthesia so that your vet can check for pockets around the teeth, remove dead tissue and allow them to eliminate tartar above and below the gum line.
Brushing your dog's teeth every day is an excellent way to avoid or curtail the progression of oral diseases. You will need some pet toothpaste (look for pooch-pleasing flavors like poultry and beef at Chewy.) POSH PETS TIP: not all dogs enjoy having their teeth brushed. If this is the case or if you just want to switch things up, dog dental wipes are a wonderful option.
Another way to keep your dog's mouth in tip top shape is to give them daily chew time. If your pup is a fan of rawhide bones, make sure you get ones that bend easily because rawhide can cause tummy issues if a dog swallows a large piece. Hard, rubbery toys are another good option, but steer clear of hard treats, toys like nylon bones or animal bones of any kind
Top quality dog food is important too. If your pup is prone to dental issues or is already showing early signs of dental disease, your vet might recommend a dental diet. This may include feeding your canine companion dried foods that help scrub their teeth as they chew or possibly feeding them additives to prevent plaque from hardening.
If you'd like additional information on where you can take your pup to get a dental exam or a teeth cleaning, please contact us.
About the Author The daughter of an award-winning travel writer, Kimberly has followed in her mother’s footsteps and has had articles published in numerous publications. She got her first puppy from Santa Claus when she was four years old and has never known a life that didn’t include four-legged family members. An animal advocate, she has rescued pets, volunteered at shelters and has even been known to nurse an injured sparrow back to health. When she’s not busy running a successful pet care business and providing care to her four-legged customers, you can rest assured that she is pampering her 19.5 -year-old kitty, Scout.