Care for your dog's teeth regularly, by having them professionally cleaned at least annually, with ongoing at-home dental care. This is an especially important routine to adopt to ensure your pet's good health and well-being. As our pets age into the senior category, it's even more important you pay attention to their oral health. Infection as a result of periodontal disease can have a significant impact on your senior pet's overall health.
Make and keep annual wellness checkups with your vet and let them know of any concerns you might have about your dog or signs you have observed, such as bad breath, loss of interest in eating or red, inflamed gums. Your vet will be able to check your dog's mouth to determine if there are dental issues that should be addressed. They may recommend professional cleaning, and based on your dog's overall health, will discuss any risks of anesthesia with you.
In between professional cleanings, do your best to provide disciplined, daily tooth brushing and care. This may take some patience, especially if it's something new you are introducing to your dog. Once your dog has learned to trust you with brushing, they'll even come to enjoy it - I know mine do! Of course, giving them a small treat after every brushing helps too.
Here's a list of things you can do to help ensure great dental health for your pet - dogs and cats.
- Feed a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate, fresh food diet, and feed it raw if possible. When your dog or cat gnaws on raw meat, it acts as a kind of natural toothbrush and dental floss.
- If you have a dog, offer recreational bones and/or a fully digestible, high-quality dental dog chew to help control plaque and tartar. The effect of dental chews is similar to raw bones but safer for power chewers or dogs who have restorative dental work and can’t chew raw bones.
- Brush your pet’s teeth, preferably every day. If every day is too tall an order, commit to doing it several times a week. A little time spent each day brushing your dog’s or kitty’s teeth can be tremendously beneficial in maintaining her oral health and overall well-being.
- Perform routine mouth inspections. Your pet should allow you to open his mouth, look inside, and feel around for loose teeth or unusual lumps or bumps on the tongue, under the tongue, along the gum line and on the roof of the mouth. After you do this a few times, you’ll become aware of any changes that occur from one inspection to the next. You should also make note of any differences in the smell of your pet’s breath that aren’t diet-related.
- Arrange for regular oral exams performed by your veterinarian. He or she will alert you to any existing or potential problems in your pet’s mouth, and recommend professional teeth cleaning under anesthesia, if necessary.