How to Take Care of Your Dog’s Teeth

Posted by Billy Francis

It’s never nice to catch a whiff of Fido’s dog breath in the morning, but did you know that his bad breath is most likely caused by poor dental habits? If you don’t take care of your dog’s teeth, it can lead to plaque buildup and, in more serious cases, diabetes, kidney disease or liver disease. The American Veterinary Medical Association sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month every February to bring awareness to the importance of oral hygiene in animals. Here’s how to help keep your pup’s pearly whites clean and healthy.

Open Wide

“Say AHHHHHHHH!” Photo by Unsplash/Kseniia Ilinykh

The first step in Fido’s journey toward a healthier mouth is for you to check there’s nothing unusual going on in there. Before you move onto the teeth, inspect your dog’s gums to make sure they are salmon pink. Blue gums may be a sign that he is suffering from cyanosis, a condition that means not enough oxygen is being carried around the body by red blood cells.

Next, ensure his teeth are intact and clean. Plaque and tartar buildup are signs that you need to up your pup’s cleaning game. Finally, examine the tongue to see if it’s moist and doesn’t have any lumps. Visit your veterinarian if anything seems out of the ordinary.

Help Fido Smile Like He Means It

“This is how you do it, right?” Photo by iStock/Aksakalko

Changing your dog’s dental hygiene habits isn’t going to be easy, but it’s worth it to help prevent long-term damage and disease. Just like humans, taking care of her teeth should be part of your pooch’s daily routine.

Don’t Rush When You Brush

Brushing your dog's teeth can seem like a daunting task, but like most things, it gets easier over time. Start by moving to a quiet, well-lit room of the house. Then, attempt to touch your dog’s mouth and gums with your finger before you bring out the brush. If she’s not bothered by your touch, grab a doggy toothbrush and use it to tap the same areas. Add a dog-safe toothpaste and, while holding your dog’s upper lip up, begin to brush the front teeth. Repeat with the bottom of the mouth. Remember to praise your dog throughout. Don’t feel like you have to rush the process if your pup’s getting agitated, but if he's tolerating it, continue onto the other teeth and give him a big treat when you’re done.

Brushing isn’t the only way to improve your dog’s dental health. Dental wipes can be used for a quick and easy rubdown of the mouth and removal of exposed plaque, although they don’t work very well at removing buildup in the cracks.

A Chew Will Do

“You mean this is good for me?” Photo by Facebook.com/Bright.by.Bark

Designed to break down plaque and taste delicious, dental treats are the next best thing to brushing for fussy pups. Chew toys are another hands-free approach to keeping canines clean. Sometimes, however, home remedies just won’t cut it. If your dog’s teeth need professional help, check in with your vet to schedule a dental cleaning session.

BringFido’s Favorite Dental Products

“This is not how we play fetch.” Photo by @sirio_the_whippet

Dogs have 42 teeth, a third more than you have in your mouth, which is why they require different solutions to take care of them. Check out our top five must-own products to help win Fido’s ongoing battle with tooth decay.

1. Bark Bright

From the folks who brought you BarkBox, Bark Bright is one of our favorite subscription services for dogs. Each delivery contains a month’s supply of dental sticks and a tube of triple enzymatic dental gel. The stick scrubs debris off the teeth and the enzymes break it down, leading to a fresher mouth and improved dental hygiene.

Bark Bright’s monthly subscription starts at $30.

2. Vet’s Best

Dogs shouldn’t use a regular toothbrush or toothpaste from your bathroom. These may contain ingredients that can be poisonous to pets. Vet’s Best has been formulated by veterinarians using a blend of aloe, neem oil, grapefruit seed extract, baking soda and enzymes. Oh, and it comes with a free brush, too.

Vet’s Best is just $4.09 on Chewy.

3. Petkin Fresh Mint Dog & Cat Plaque Tooth Wipes

As the saying goes, one Petkin Wipe a day keeps the plaque at bay. This tub of 40 cleansing wipes are made with baking soda and have a mint flavor to refresh the breath and wipe away daily residue from your dog’s various antics.

Petkin Fresh Mint Dog & Cat Plaque Tooth Wipes are $3.50 on Chewy.

4. Greenies Dog Treats

Greenies Dog Treats are chewy by design, which keeps them working away at the plaque for longer. They’re made using vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help support canine health and pack a fresh scent to fight against scary breath. They’re available in a variety of sizes.

Greenies Regular Dog Treats range from $4.98 to $33.99 on Chewy.

5. Nylabone DuraChew Dental Chew

Nylabone DuraChew Dental Chew tastes like chicken, looks like a dinosaur and will fast become your pup’s best friend in the fight against plaque. This chew toy’s knobby texture has been developed to scrape against the forgotten parts of the mouth and gently grind off plaque while your dog enjoys her favorite pastime of chewing.

Nylabone DuraChew Dental Chew is $6.49 on Chewy.

How do you keep your dog’s teeth clean? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

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