Brushing your dog’s teeth is often commented on with a clear pointer to the forehead. But, the dear owner brushes his teeth too, doesn’t he? And not just to present a radiant smile, but to ward off diseases that are promoted by poor dental hygiene. Regular dental care for dogs has a right to exist.
Original Dental Care
Wild dog species and wolves tear and eat their prey, which not least means constant “cleaning” of the teeth and the oral cavity. Our civilized four-legged friends, however, are mostly fed dry or wet food from bags and cans. The majority of our dogs get practically processed, almost “ready to swallow” food in perfectly portionable form. Since the dog’s teeth are rarely used here, this modern type of dog nutrition favors the development of dental diseases. And these often have worse consequences than you might think. So to keep your dog’s mouth in good shape, you should brush his teeth regularly.
First warning signs of dental problems
The first signs of a questionable tooth condition are dark discoloration, followed by tartar and sometimes bad breath. Periodontosis, inflamed tooth pockets, or even inflammation of the roots can later develop in the jaw, which is accompanied by severe pain. Remember: if your four-legged friend no longer eats and the vet has to work, this is a much more difficult operation than with us, two-legged friends, because dental treatments for our pets mean – quite apart from the costs – the need for general anesthesia with all the associated risks and side effects.
The main cause of plaque
Most dental diseases in dogs, as in humans, are triggered by deposits called “plaque” that stick to the teeth after they have eaten. Bacteria and acidic secretions live in this plaque, which can cause tooth decay and inflammation of the gums. True bacterial colonies develop from the remains of food within 48 hours, especially at the gum line. These multiply explosively and in turn form deposits that ultimately become rock-hard and are therefore called tartar.
Local consequences: tartar, periodontal disease, and tooth loss
Tartar is common in dogs and causes unpleasant halitosis as well as painful inflammation of the gums, from which around 85 percent of all dogs suffer. The gums retract, forming pockets and exposing the sensitive neck of the tooth. Now we are talking about the notorious periodontal disease. Gums that have retreated and exposed the neck of the tooth no longer grow back to their original position.
Without treatment, the disease progresses permanently until the tooth roots are exposed or even the jawbone is attacked. At this stage, the tooth can no longer be saved.
Consequences for the whole organism
But things can get worse. Bacteria can thrive in the gum pockets, tartar, and plaque, which can reach other parts of the body via the blood vessels and cause diseases there. This transfers the inflamed tooth status to the general health of your dog. If there are continuous inflammatory processes in the mouth, this ultimately affects the entire organism. Older dogs with heart problems in particular are at risk because the bacteria in the mouth flora prefer to settle on the heart valves. It has also been proven that the kidneys and liver are also stressed by bad teeth and inflammation of the gums.
The Best Ways for Dental Hygiene and Prophylaxis
Brushing the teeth with a toothbrush
Brushing your teeth is the most effective way of removing plaque. Dare to try it cautiously. Before starting, it is important to ensure that the dog’s teeth are healthy and pain-free. Then the dog gets used to the taste of the special dog toothpaste step by step by getting the paste on the gums as a treat. But you can just act just as well with just a moistened toothbrush. According to experts, this has the advantage that the dogs do not get the idea that it is a treat and enthusiastically chew on the brush, which makes it impossible to actually brush their teeth. Never use human toothpaste for dog dental care!
That’s how it’s done:
- Use a particularly soft toothbrush or a toothbrush specially designed for dogs;
- Gently start with the side surfaces of the upper molars. Gently slide the toothbrush into the dog’s cheeks and gently hold its mouth closed. This allows the tongue to stay calm;
- To brush the lower molars, open the hand you use to keep your mouth closed to give it some space. Then brush the back teeth thoroughly. Here are two salivary glands that promote rapid tartar formation, especially on the back teeth;
- Brushing its upper incisors may provoke your dog to sneeze; be careful not to injure the dog with the toothbrush;
- The catch must be open to clean the inner surfaces. This work step is best done with what is known as a double-headed toothbrush from a specialist retailer. Practice the sequence in small, individual steps;
- The interior surfaces are only cleaned when your dog tolerates the other cleaning exercises calmly and without defensive movements;
- The four-legged friend has earned praise and pats after every successful dental care exercise
Gradually increase the cleaning time and intensity. Ten seconds is wonderful, thirty seconds is excellent;
- Important: Stop brushing your teeth and praise your darling before they fight back. Never continue against his resistance;
- Instead of using a toothbrush, you can also carry out these instructions with a finger toothbrush or a finger cot from a specialist retailer;
- Classic cleaning often fails because older dogs do not understand why they suddenly do dental care of this kind. If possible, start getting your four-legged friend over to this procedure when you are a puppy and let yourself be caught.
Enzymes against bacterial growth
Special dental care gels work on the basis of enzymes. They are applied to the teeth and help prevent new plaque and tartar from building up. They also indirectly fight bad breath and prevent potential inflammation. The disadvantage: Here, too, you first have to get to the teeth of your four-legged friend. The procedure is much shorter and easier for humans and dogs, but not every dog is so cooperative as to have gel applied to their teeth.
A little trick: put a dollop of gel on its paw and expect your dog to clean its paw right away. Bingo! The active ingredient has landed in your mouth and you should notice an improvement after two to three weeks of regular use.
Food to support dental health
There is dog food specially made for abrasion on the teeth. This food is mostly offered in the form of a croquette. The size, shape, and texture should ensure that the teeth are cleaned “naturally”. The feed is often enriched with enzymes and substances that lower the pH value in order to make plaque formation more difficult. However, it is questionable whether a real and full-fledged substitute for healthy feed can be provided in this way. But why not use it as an occasional treat to counter the plaque.
Back to the origins: Natural teeth cleaning by chewing
Chewing and nibbling will naturally clean and strengthen your teeth and gums. Whether fresh beef bones from the butcher shop across the street or dried chicken necks, pig ears, and ox pizzle from specialist retailers – there are all sorts of healthy “tooth cleaners” that not only provide valuable ingredients but also provide great nibbling fun.
When feeding bones, you should watch out for splintering animal bones, as these pose a dangerous risk of injury. This is why you should stay close at all times during the feast and remove the last sharp bits of bone from your dog before he swallows them. The consumption of organic snacks in the apartment can also be suboptimal. To protect against stains, you should generously cover the carpet or the parquet at the feeding station or wherever your “predator” drifts away to chew with pleasure.
A “clean” variant is easily portionable chewing sticks or high-quality feed with a dental care effect, which you keep from the “mess” at home and ensure the necessary abrasion on the teeth and a healthy gum massage. But pay particular attention to the natural and healthy composition of the products.
Precaution is better than drilling!
So that you and your four-legged friend do not have to go to the vet and remove tartar and the associated costs, it is best to start patiently brushing your teeth when you are a puppy. You can also activate the natural chewing and nibbling behavior on real bones or chewing products specially made to keep teeth and gums healthy. Avoid cheap food or chewing sticks from the supermarket, as well as dog food with added sugar and color or preservatives and flavorings.
High-quality wet or dry food, fresh drinking water to stimulate the flow of saliva, and healthy, natural chews as a regular snack are the most important basics to keep your four-legged friend’s teeth healthy. You should also visit your vet regularly, including a tooth and gum check, because the sooner you discover damage, the better! And don’t forget: brushing your teeth regularly will help your dog get healthier teeth.