Keeping those pearly whites in tip-top condition

Your dog’s breath doesn’t have to smell as if something crawled in between his teeth and died there. He too can have fresh breath when he greets you. All you need to do, is follow a few steps, which will go a long way to keeping him healthy.


How to brush your puppy’s teeth

A dog’s teeth should ideally be brushed every day, or at least as often as possible. At the very least, they should be brushed twice a week. Apart from making his breath smell better, regular brushing prevents tartar build-up, which is one of the leading causes of gum disease.

  • Step 1 Get him used to having his mouth touched and inspected from early on.
  • Step 2 Rub his teeth with your finger, and once he is used to that, wrap gauze around your finger and rub that on his teeth.
  • Step 3 Use a toothbrush made for pets, which is available from most vets and pet shops.
  • Step 4 Once he is used to the brush, add specially formulated toothpaste for pets. Don’t use human toothpaste, as this could upset his stomach, and dogs don’t like the taste of it.
  • Step 5 Use circular movements, away from the gums, to clean his teeth.

Don’t rush any of these steps – take it slowly. If you force your dog and move too quickly, he will associate you touching his mouth with a negative experience, and might then resist all contact with his mouth.


Signs of a dental issue

These are sure signs that there is something wrong with your dog’s teeth and gums, and that he needs to see a vet. Discuss these symptoms with your vet and work out an oral care routine for your dog:

  • Yellow and brown deposits of tartar towards the base of the teeth, at the gum line
  • Generally discoloured teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Inflamed gums
  • Difficulty eating or a change in eating habits
  • Pawing at the face or mouth area
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bad breath
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Broken teeth
  • Bumps, growths or cuts/ulcers in the mouth


Healthy teeth

Even if your dog has healthy teeth, he needs to see a vet to have his teeth checked at least every six to 12 months. A dental check is generally included as part of the annual check-up by most vets, but if not, you can (and should!) request it. As with all health issues, prevention is better than cure, so engaging in proper dental hygiene practices early in your dog’s life, can save on painful and expensive veterinary procedures later on.

Do the following between vet visits, to keep his teeth and gums in good condition:

  1. Feed your dog good quality pet food (the best that you can afford), which will not only nourish the body, but also ensure stronger teeth. Foods to avoid are those made with by-products, such as meals and cereal grains, which tend to stick to the teeth.
  2. Rather offer fruit and veggie snacks, which assist in cleaning the plaque off the dog’s teeth.
  3. Other options are dried meat treats – those assist in cleaning teeth during the chewing action.
  4. Your dog might also enjoy chewy toys made from rubber or nylon. Choose your dog’s toys with care. Do NOT give your dog cow hooves or raw hide chews. These often result in tooth or gum damage, and should your dog swallow a piece, it could result in an obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract.
  5. The best thing you can do for your dog, is to brush his teeth daily, with a specially formulated pet toothpaste.

This article first appeared in the South Africa’s Dog Directory. For more articles like this, order a copy now online.


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