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The Benefits of Home Dental Care For Dogs

Proper dental care for your dog is probably one of the most important things you can do for his health, wellbeing and longevity. An unclean mouth develops plaque, tartar, foul breath, and eventually leads to gingivitis and decaying teeth. What many people don't realize is that the bacteria in the dog's mouth that destroys their teeth and causes bad breath also circulates throughout his body and can damage his organs.

Luckily, there are a lot of options for your dog's dental care!

Brushing Your Dog's Teeth

Brushing Your Dog's Teeth

The most common way to keep your dog's teeth and gums healthy is by brushing your dog's teeth with a toothbrush and dog toothpaste. The rubbing action of the brush along with the toothpaste helps to keep clean teeth, clear of plaque and other problems. A toothbrush specifically designed for dogs works best, but you can also use a toothbrush made for children - one with soft bristles. Dog toothbrushes come either as a standard toothbrush, a three sided brush, or as a brush you can wear on your finger. For most dogs and people, the one used on the finger might be a painful prospect, as dogs typically enjoy having their teeth brushed and might bite down!

The toothpaste should never, ever be people toothpaste. Instead, you can select from a flavored variety made specifically for dogs. It only takes a small, pea sized amount each time, so one tube will last for ages.

Introducing your dog to brushing should be done slowly to acquaint him to the process. Start by allowing him to lick a small bit of toothpaste off your finger. Then, dab a small amount on his gum line. Once he enjoys the flavor, you can use the toothbrush, but on the first time or two, you might only brush half of your dog's mouth until you both get the hang of it. It will be slightly awkward in the beginning but continue to brush his teeth just like you do your own.

If your dog is particularly sensitive to a toothbrush, another option is to moisten a small baby rag with warm water and the toothpaste and wipe your dog's teeth and gums. It will not provide the abrasive quality of a toothbrush, but it will still remove a good deal of debris.

Ideally, you should brush your dog's teeth everyday, but a more realistic expectation might be 2-3 times per week.

Dental Sprays and Solutions

Most dogs do come to enjoy having their teeth brushed, but if you have a particularly sensitive dog, you might want to consider the various types of dental sprays and solutions that have become available in recent years.

Some of these products, like "Plaque Off", are mixed into your dog's daily drinking water and help to breakdown the initial films created by bacteria.

Natural based dental sprays or gels are useful as well. These products often use natural ingredients like grapefruit seed extract, peppermint oil, or acetic acid to kill bacteria in the mouth and prevent the buildup of plaque. Some of these products can also work to dissolve already formed tartar. These products must be used at least 3 times a week to be effective but are easily applied. You simply place a small amount on your dog's teeth, and its saliva moves the product around. "Petzlife Oral Care" and "Dentacetic" are two examples of gels and sprays.

Dental Chews Are Also Important

Another excellent way to keep your dog's teeth clean is through the use of dental chews. Rawhide bones are no longer recommended by most veterinarians because they can cause a blockage in your dog's intestines, but there are a lot of appropriate chews for dogs of all sizes.

Edible chews like Greenies (my dog's favorite!), Nutri-Dent, and others often contain wheat starch to make them chewy and pliable, but this also makes them highly digestible. You need to be careful and follow package recommendations for treat size, as a dog can swallow a chew whole or in large chunks that is too large for its body weight.

In addition to edible chew treats, there are non-edible ones that offer many benefits. The Nylabone Plaque Attackers offer a highly chewable toy with a lot of bumps to massage the gums and remove plaque. The more ridges or bumps on a chew treat or toy, the more benefit the dog will receive from chewing it.

Offer your dog an edible chew treat 2-3 times per week and allow daily access to non-edible chew toys.

Food Good for Dental Health

The last but certainly not least thing you can do for your dog's teeth is to provide him with food items that help loosen plaque.

Fresh, raw veggies are a great way to remove plaque. Many dogs love carrots, sweet potato slices, and green beans.

Many people favor the addition of raw meat or bones for dental health. A raw knuckle bone segment provides a lot of fibrous meat to chew off. Poultry necks and wings are also popular choices. Be sure to never, ever give your dog cooked bones, as these will splinter.

Dry kibble instead of wet, canned foods is also better for your dog's teeth. For more information on what to feed your dog check out - what is the best dog food.

The Best Overall Plan For Your Dog's Teeth & Gums

Ideally, the best plan for dental health is a combination of all of these methods. You can fully prevent professional dental cleanings with anesthesia if you create and stick to a home dental plan for your dog.

By providing your dog with appropriate food everyday, a few edible chews a week, a non-edible chew everyday, and making sure to brush his mouth several times a week and/or use the gels and sprays, your dog will have the perfect dental health.

All the best with your dog.

Other pages you may be interested in:

Comprehensive resource of dog health care information.

How to train a young puppy the positive non violent way - puppy training step by step.

How to solve dog behavior problems such as excessive barking, chewing, digging and pulling on the leash.

Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.