Say treats! It’s February, and that means it’s National Pet Dental Health Month! Einstein Pets will be celebrating with an announcement your dog will smile about - so to help you make sure those pearly whites are, well, pearly and white; we’re serving up this guide on dog dental care you can do at home.
In this dental care guide for dogs, you’ll learn some of the best dog dental care products; all the different things you can do at home to take care of your dog’s teeth; when to see a vet about your dog’s dental health, and much more.
Why is dog dental health important?
Have you ever heard the old saying that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s? Unfortunately, that isn’t true. Their mouths are teeming with as much gross stuff as ours. While they aren’t prone to cavities like we are, they do have the same issues with plaque, tartar, gingivitis, and dental disease. Those things lead to yellow teeth and bad breath. But, more importantly, poor oral health can lead to life-threatening infections and diseases if left untreated.
What’s more, the cost of dog dental care beyond regular cleanings can be extensive, running into several thousands of dollars. Just like preventative care for us is so very important to keep our mouths healthy, there are several things you can do at home to improve your dog’s oral health between cleanings.
What can I do at home to care for my dog’s teeth?
Here’s a list of things you can do at home to keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. These will not only save you money on pet teeth cleaning but you may very well extend your dog’s life!
Brush your dog’s teeth
Well, this statistic might make you growl! As important as it is, only 1% of pet owners brush their pet’s teeth! (Okay, we’ll blame it on those pesky cat owners...) Still, that’s far too few pet parents pulling back those gums and bushing their pup’s pearly whites!
Just like with you and me, daily tooth brushing is the absolute best way to ensure your dog’s teeth and gums stay healthy. But, even if you can only manage once-weekly brushing - that’s way better than never.
Be sure that you only use toothpaste that is made for dogs. This is extremely important! Some toothpaste for humans contains ingredients that are toxic for our furriest friends. Plus, as gross as it sounds to us, they’d much prefer to brush with their bacon-flavored toothpaste than your peppermint gel, which will make the experience less traumatic for the dogs that don’t love it. You can use a soft brush, a finger brush, or even a few pieces of gauze to gently brush your dog’s teeth and gums.
Dental treats & chews
Dental treats are designed to do double duty - dogs love the taste so they enjoy the delicious treat, meanwhile, they mechanically scrape the buildup of plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth. They’re a win-win!
Now, here's that announcement we mentioned earlier... The whole team at Einstein Pets is trembling with excitement. Our bodies are shaking side to side because our tails are wagging so fast!
Just in time for National Pet Dental Month, Einstein Pets is releasing a brand new, limited ingredient, all-natural dental treat for dogs - Dental Sticks! Your dogs will love the yummy sweet potato and bacon chews that clean their teeth while they munch! (coming soon!)
Another extremely simple thing you can do for your dog’s dental health is to put an additive in their water. These contain enzymes that help fight tartar and freshen breath, a lot like mouthwash does for humans. However, please don’t give your dog a human mouthwash - it’s not the same thing!
Food additives, like PlaqueOff, work in a similar way to water additives, but they are sprinkled on your dog’s food instead of added to the water. Our suggestion is to read the reviews of many brands, determine which food or water additive if any, will work best for you, and give it a try. These are all meant to complement your brushing routine, not replace it.
In the same way that dog dental treats pull double duty, dental toys make your pup happy, keep them entertained, and also scrub the surface of their teeth or massage their gums while they chew on them. Look for durable rubber ‘nubby’ toys that will scrape the plaque or massage their gums. Or, try rope toys that will act like floss and clean between each tooth. As is the case with any toy, take them away when they get shredded or small enough to swallow.
When should I start dog dental care?
You should start caring for your dog’s teeth as soon as they have teeth! Yes, those puppy teeth will eventually fall out, but an early introduction to brushing will get your dog used to a lifetime of care. That will make it easy to care for those adult teeth for many years to come.
Is dry food better for my dog’s teeth?
We hear this so often we felt the need to address it. Regular dry kibble is as good at cleaning your dog’s teeth as cereal and Doritos are at cleaning yours! No, dry food isn’t better for your dog’s teeth. The best food for your dog is the food that keeps them healthy.
With that said, there are some prescription dental foods that are designed to clean teeth. They do a better job of keeping teeth clean than regular kibble because they are harder, massive-sized kibbles, so the dog has to break them with their teeth. They also have some enzymes that will help keep the teeth from developing as much plaque. However, some of the other ingredients in the food may not be ideal for your dog.
When to see a veterinarian about your dog’s teeth:
Despite your best efforts, it’s likely that your dog will need to get a routine yearly dental cleaning from the veterinarian. The point is to keep the teeth healthy and avoid extractions and infections. However, you should call the vet if you notice any of the following:
- Bad breath;
- If your dog is pawing at their mouth;
- Excessive drooling;
- Broken, missing, or loose teeth;
- If your dog has swollen, bleeding, or red gums;
- When you notice growths or bumps in their mouth;
- If you notice any other unusual changes.
Care for your dog’s teeth at home now, and save on vet care later
Take time to make preventative dental care a part of your daily routine and you’ll save in the long run. Not only will you save potentially thousands of dollars in dental surgery for your dog, but dental issues can lead to deadly heart disease, kidney failure, and organ damage - and it’s all preventable!
Einstein Pets is here to help you keep those puppy kisses coming! Do that by using these tips for caring for your dog's teeth at home, along with our new Dental Sticks dental treats!