National Pet Dental Health Month is celebrated every February. It was created by the American Veterinary Medical Association and is now acknowledged worldwide raising awareness around the importance of oral health in our pets.
Like with humans, effective daily dental care is important, helping to prevent gum disease, bad breath, infected teeth, tartar build-up and other more serious mouth problems.
Signs your dog has mouth problems:
- Discoloured teeth that fall out or die (except for puppy/baby teeth falling out)
- A nasty smell in the mouth
- Your dog may go off their food if they have difficulty easting caused by toothache or an abscess
- Bleeding, sore, or damaged gums
- Significant build-up of plaque on the teeth
Do you clean or brush your pet’s teeth? It is recommended that dog’s teeth are cleaned 2-4 times a week with maximum results coming from them being cleaned every day, but many owners are reluctant to do so.
If you haven’t cleaned your dog’s teeth for some time, plaque can build up and become hard on the enamel of their teeth. This will need to be removed professionally by a vet.
Tips to help care for your dog’s teeth and keep them healthy:
- Start training your dog into having its teeth cleaned and cared for from when they are a puppy so that they are used to having this done. if you are not comfortable to do this yourself, then you can book in for regular cleaning at your local vets.
- Seek advice from your vet if your dog’s teeth are damaged or have a large amount of plaque on them.
- Oral sprays and gels are also readily available to help clean your dogs teeth. These are sprayed directly into your dog's mouth and then are rubbed around the teeth and gums.
- Use a specific pet toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs. Our mouths are different from our dogs. A dog’s mouth is much smaller, compact and have up to 42 teeth compared to the average 32 human teeth. Pet specific toothbrushes have different bristles, head shape, and a longer handle so that you can brush your dog’s teeth with ease.
- Keep an eye on what they eat within their diet. There is a difference in opinion when it comes to wet and dry dog food. Many dry foods are known to encourage dogs to chew, which naturally cleanses and strengthens their teeth, whereas wet dog food tends to have additional nutrients such as calcium and protein added to support your dog’s health.
- Chewing dog bones can help to remove plaque and tartar from teeth as well as being a tasty treat for your pooch - they will be unaware that they are cleaning their teeth. *NOTE* do not give your dog cooked bones, they can splinter and cause serious damage to your dog.
- Dog toys can also be beneficial in cleaning your pets teeth alongside encouraging exercise and increasing jaw strength.
- If you’re uncomfortable cleaning your dog’s teeth, try dog chew supplements. There are a variety on the market which help clean teeth, fight plaque, and freshen a dog’s breath.
Remember, every dog is unique, so not all tips necessarily work. For more professional advice focusing on your dog and their diet, please seek advice from your vet.