Loving pet parents try to stay on top of everything to do with their dog's health, but oral health is one thing that many dog owners neglect without even realising it. It's estimated that more than 80% of dogs show signs of gum disease by their third birthday--so what can you do to help protect your pooch's precious teeth?
Choose a diet consisting of mostly dry food. Dry food is better for a dog's teeth than wet food because having something to crunch on helps to clean them--and there's less danger of food particles sticking between the teeth or below the gumline. As well as this, in many cases, dry food is actually higher-quality food than wet food is; it contains fewer fillers, and you'll find that premium brands often only produce dry food. This doesn't mean you can't use wet food at all, though. Not all dogs enjoy a purely dry diet, so you can always use small amounts of wet food as a mixer to keep dinner interesting.
Give them a dental treat every night at bedtime. You make sure your teeth are clean before you go to sleep at night, so why not do the same for your dog? There are dozens of different commercially available one-a-day dental treats for dogs. Ask your vet which they recommend. If you want to supplement these treats or skip them altogether, some dogs love carrots, and a daily carrot is also great for canine teeth.
Brush your dog's teeth at least once a week. Brushing your dog's teeth might seem like a pain, but it's actually much easier than it sounds--particularly if you take some time to train them into expecting it. Make sure that you buy a toothbrush designed for a dog's mouth and that the toothpaste you use is explicitly designed for canine use. Some of the substances found in human toothpaste (especially fluoride) are toxic to dogs, so that last point is especially important. With some practice, some training and some treats, brushing time can become a fun game for you and your dog to play together once a week.
Take them to a veterinary dentist every six months. Just like you, your dog needs a little professional input on their oral health every now and again. Some general vets have been trained in veterinary dentistry, but if yours hasn't been, you can find dental specialists in every city. A twice-yearly checkup is essential to help you keep an eye on your dog's oral health, nip any problems in the bud before they progress and give you a chance to ask any questions about your dog's teeth.
To learn more about veterinary dentistry, contact a vet near you.