When your pet lunges in to cover you with doggy kisses, the affectionate gesture can often be undermined by an unpleasant smell. While no dog should be smelling minty-fresh (and if they do, it may be time to see if they’ve got at your toothpaste supplies), anything that smells of decay is otherwise unbearable is a serious problem.
This is hardly surprising when you remember that vets think over 80 per cent of all dogs suffer from gum disease. It’s nearly impossible for humans to have healthy teeth and nice breath if they have gum disease, and it’s the same for dogs. However, there are a number of simple things that can be done to keep your pooch’s teeth in tip-top condition.
It may sound odd, but it’s possible to brush your dog’s teeth much as you would your own. This is generally achieved by using a soft silicone brush that slips onto your finger. For best results, make sure your dog is as relaxed as possible before you start, as they may find the sensation strange and unnerving.
Animal Health Tea Tree Toothpowder comes with a special toothbrush, and is a gentle, natural way to help teeth stay pearly white, as well as tackling the causes of bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.
You must never use toothpaste designed for humans on your pet, as it can irritate their stomach and make them sick.
There is a wide variety of dog treats available that are specially designed to keep their teeth clean and healthy. The best are shaped so that they will break down any plaque or other debris on the teeth as they are eaten, or are made with particularly chewy materials to achieve the same result.
Some, like Foldhill Chewdles Chips with Fluoride, even have added ingredients to help toughen up your pet’s teeth in the long run. You may need to experiment before finding the one your pup likes best, but these chew treats are a quick and easy way to improve dental health.
For an all-natural route, rawhide chews are also great for teeth, even when not specifically marketed as such.
If you don’t want to use dental chews, there are also a number of toys available that can promote healthy teeth and gums in your pup. For example, the Kong Dental Red Medium is made of puncture-resistant rubber, and its unusual shape means it bounces irregularly, making it great fun for your dog to chase.
The chewing action it promotes is what provides the health benefits, so don’t be offended if you dog just wants to hide under the table with their precious toy for a while - they’re just cleaning their teeth.
If tooth and gum problems are a serious concern, you vet may prescribe a sort of doggy mouthwash. However, since your dog can’t understand the concept of rinsing and spitting it out, you’ll generally be given an antiseptic or fluoride solution.
A small amount of this is added to your pet’s drinking water (generally measured out using the bottle cap), and then it can get to work. Even though many of these products are sold as mouthwashes and rinses, the principle is normally the same.
There are also breath-freshening sprays available for dogs, although those of a nervous disposition may not take kindly to having strange liquid squirted straight into their mouths.
As you can see, there are numerous options when it comes to keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. If you’re unsure about the best method for your dog, or think they may have more serious problems that require treatment, your vet will be able to explain all the options to you.
Written by: Declan Weed