Your dog’s dental care contributes to his good health. Taking care of his teeth is essential for his well-being. Consequently, it is advisable to establish a routine to facilitate this type of care.

Maintaining a healthy dentition helps to prevent bad breath and the development of bacteria (that can put your life at risk in some extreme cases!), which promotes good oral health and decreases the risk of diseases that can endanger his life.

What are the most common mistakes you should avoid regarding your pup’s dental care?

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Mistake #1: Waiting too long before treating your dog’s dental illnesses

This is essentially due to 3 main factors:

1. Not knowing anything about dental illnesses in dogs

Dental diseases can be resumed into 2 different types, periodontal disease, and fractured teeth. And unlike humans, cavities or tooth decays are very rare in dogs representing as little as 10% with most cases encountered in senior dogs.

Most dogs are good at hiding their teeth problems, maybe as an instinct (In the wild animals tend to hide their weaknesses to avoid opportunistic predators). So, it’s your duty and that of your veterinarian to unveil those hidden and usually very painful problems.

So, what is a periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease stands for all the inflammatory processes and infections associated with the periodontium (the specialized tissues that both surround and support the tooth) including the gum, the alveolar bone, the cementum, and the periodontal ligament.

In dogs it is mainly the gum (gingiva) that is mostly affected. In which case, it is called gingivitis.

If you don’t treat the gingivitis in time, the infection may spread to the other tissues and destroy them, and your dog may loose his tooth.

What is tartar and how does it build-up?

Your dog’s mouth is a natural habitat to myriads of germs including bacteria.

Due to the lack of regular teeth cleaning, those bacteria gather up in a sort of layer surrounding the tooth called plaque, this structure is difficult to remove and almost impenetrable by antibiotics.

If you don’t remove this plaque, it mineralizes and becomes thicker, leading to the build-up of tartar.

Not knowing how to prevent dental diseases

A few dog owners know how to prevent their pup’s dental problems. They don’t even recognize those problems to begin with.

The simplest way would be to seek veterinary advice. It is the safest and most accurate way you can think of.

Fearing it would be costly to seek a vet for treatment

But the longer you wait the worse the disease gets, which means your will prolong your dog’s pain, and the more treatment will be needed (sometimes many teeth will need to be extracted) and accordingly the more expensive it gets.

And unfortunately, in some cases, the prognosis can be awfully bad.

This could all be easily avoided by consulting your veterinarian earlier.

So, what should you do to prevent that from happening?

First, start by lifting your dog’s cheek and see what’s underneath it. Just make sure to be gentle and do not surprise your dog.

Always avoid applying pressure on your dog’s teeth or gum, as they can be extremely sensitive, and you might end up bitten.

Now, if you can’t check what’s inside your dog’s mouth (your dog is extremely excited, aggressive or in pain), go seek the help of your veterinarian, as your pet may need sedation or even anesthesia if he’s in too much pain.

Mistake #2: Not having a good maintenance program for your dog’s teeth

The key idea here is to keep a good dental hygiene for your dog.

But how can you achieve a good dental hygiene?

It is so simple, just brush his teeth and flush his gums every day!

What if you can’t afford to clean your dog’s teeth regularly?

Well, one solution could be to feed him with a Dental diet food. Just make sure to have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of acceptance on the product before buying it.

You can also use a water additive to hinder the development of plaque and tartar build-up, such as Petlab Co. Dental Formula.

There are other products that promote periodontal health such as, 1-TDC which is a four-in-one supplement that supports your pet’s oral health, hip & joint health, stamina/muscle recovery and skin & coat health.

Or you can use a vitamin C product to help with epithelial health like Maxiguard, this product has proven to be incredibly good against periodontal disease, gum problems and bad breath.

In fact, it is recommended by most vets as it reduces the build-up of tartar and plaque. Besides, you won’t need a tooth brush to apply it.

Also, you should consider regular teeth cleans under anesthetics, at your veterinary clinic, to remove plaque and tartar build-up (at least once a year).

Mistake #3: Not knowing how to brush your dog’s teeth or Using inadequate tools

Many dog owners address their pups dental care the wrong way:

They brush their dog’s teeth using their own toothpaste with a human toothbrush without even being consistent about it.

Unfortunately, this is not the proper way to approach it!

First, human toothpaste is not suitable for dogs.

In fact, it contains high amounts of Fluoride and sometimes even Xylitol, which are known to be extremely poisonous for dogs. Furthermore, most dogs don’t like the taste of it, which makes the teeth brushing an unpleasant experience.

Instead, there are many toothpastes in the market that are designed specifically for dogs. Most of them are edible and come with a variety of added aromas you can choose from depending on your dog’s preferences.

I personally recommend using the Virbac CET Enzymatic Toothpaste.

It is well appreciated by dogs as it comes in three different aromas: Poultry; Beef and Vanilla mint (I prefer the poultry aroma!). And most dog owners are satisfied with the results they get.

If you are on a budget, you can also use the Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste

It’s cheaper, yet it is believed to be a tooth saver.

Many dog parents reported that, after using this product regularly on some dogs with awful teeth condition and excessive tartar build-up, they could literally scrape off the tartar with their bare fingernails.

When it comes to toothbrushes, there are different options:

If your dog is a small breed, finger toothbrushes are the best choice such as, Barkley’s 360º Dog Fingerbrush Toothbrush.

But I won’t encourage you to use them if your dog is aggressive, as he might rip off your finger!  

I suggest that you buy the PenVinoo Dog Toothbrush as it contains both dog toothbrushes and finger toothbrushes.

Mistake #4: Taking advice from unreliable sources

Nowadays, there are many misleading sources of information. As a pet parent, you should be overly cautious about all the tips and DIY hacks you come across here and there.

And always seek the most reliable information from official sources with an established authority and renown, such as, veterinarians, medical journals, governmental websites (CDC, OIE…).                                                          

Mistake #5: Not feeding your dog a balanced nutritional diet

What is a balanced dog diet?                             

For your pet to become a healthy adult dog with no dental problems, he should get a balanced combination of protein, fat and carbohydrates, with a special attention to vitamin and oligo-nutrients’ intake.

The amount of food you need to give him will depend on his:

  • Size (small, medium, or large dog)
  • Physiological state (active, sports dog, lying dog)
  • Age (puppy, adult dog, old dog).

Homemade Vs Industrial food

Homemade Meat-based diets are not particularly recommended for your dog. These meals are generally unbalanced because they contain too much meat and not enough fibers. Instead, add some legumes and vegetables to his diet.

On the other hand, industrial meals from supermarkets, or the ones sold at the vet, are more balanced because the proportions are carefully respected.

And unlike cats, you should not give your dog unlimited access to food as there is a risk of overconsumption and obesity.

Photo 1

Bull Terrier Chico by ivob licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo 2

Zahnstein-Hund by Uwe Gille licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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