Dos and Don'ts of Dog Dental Care | PetFirst Pet Insurance
Pet Care & Health

Dos and Don’ts of Dog Dental Care

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
4 years ago

There has never been a better time than now to think about what may be causing harm to your dog’s teeth! There are many things to consider: The best dog foodto pick for dental upkeep, how to brush your pup’s teeth, what treats are okay and what treats are bad…the list goes on and on. The following tips will walk you through all these dog teeth care issues.

Dog biting down on its chew toy

Do: Buy the Right Dog Food

For many people, the decision between what type of dog food to get comes down to dry vs. wet. In regards to dog teeth care, however, the general consensus is that dry dog food is the best dog food.

Dry dog food (or kibble) comes with a unique set of dental benefits that some pet owners might not even be aware of. Whenever canines chomp down on crunchy kibble, it actually helps to remove tartar and plaque. This sort of chomping plays a crucial role in cleaning teeth. Unfortunately, however, many dry dog foods are manufactured with low-quality proteins, non-nutritive fillers and questionable meat byproducts. That makes it very important to keep a lookout for dry dog foods manufactured by trusted brands using only high-quality ingredients.

Wet dog food, on the other hand, lacks the cleansing crunch of kibble. As a result, it doesn’t provide the same breadth of dental care. Also, wet food is more likely to stick to your dog’s teeth and cause decay over time. However, it’s still a solid alternative for picky eaters and dogs who have already developed significant dental issues. It’s also relatively harmless (and always well-received) when used as an occasional treat.

An aisle full of dog food at the grocery store

So, for every day dog dental care, try this: Do feed your dog high quality dry food, using wet as an occasional treat. In the case of older dogs with existing dental issues, however, wet food is the best dog food to go with if you wish to minimize the chances of additional damage.

Do: Use Dental-Friendly Pet Treats

Oral care-focused dog treats claiming to be tooth-friendly are nothing new. But is there anything behind their supposed effectiveness, or are these claims unfounded?

According to Dr. Michael Tudor, treats like Greenies Canine Dental Chews and Natural Balance Dental Chews do have a positive impact on canine teeth. He explains, “The way these dental treats are produced, they have a matrix that allows them to microscopically rub against the teeth and remove debris.”

Additionally, an in-depth study published in 2014 found that combining dental-focused chews with regular brushing reduced the amount of oral bacteria found on dogs’ teeth by an average of 70%. The study also found that the act of chewing itself has an effect on the amount of bacteria found on dogs’ teeth, and that a natural chew treat itself is capable of reducing bacteria by almost 61%.

So, as it turns out, pet owners can feel good about using these oral care-focused treats after all. Based on the sources, they sound like a definite do!

Do: Monitor for Signs of Dental Damage

Canine teeth can get damaged in all sorts of ways. Abscesses, chipping and various other problems can lead to serious complications down the road if they’re not addressed quickly. That said, recognizing when your dog is in suffering from a dental affliction is a definite do.

If you’re unsure of whether or not to schedule a dental check-up, here are some big indicators you should:

  • Your dog is only chewing on one side of its mouth.
  • Your dog is avoiding chewing unless it’s absolutely necessary(i.e., it has lost interest in its chew toys, bones, etc.).
  • Your dog has characteristically bad breath.
  • Your dog is displaying incessant nasal discharge and/or sneezing.
  • Your dog has developed pronounced swelling around its eye.
  • Your dog’s jaw has mysteriously become swollen or enlarged.
  • Your dog is pulling away when you touch it around its mouth, as if in pain or fear of pain (however, you should never be overly reliant on this as an indicator that your dog is suffering, as canines have evolved to hide signs of chronic pain).
  • Your dog is scratching its face a lot more than usual.

When performing routine check-ups on your dog’s teeth, be on the look out for some dental red flags like broken or loose teeth, bleeding, swelling, and plaque and tartar buildup (even a small amount can mask serious underlying problems).

If you spot any of these issues, your best option is to take your dog to see your vet so he or she can determine the cause. Then, you can be certain that it’s being treated correctly.

Small pug smiling up at the camera

Definite Don’ts

So far, a lot of dos have been addressed, but not nearly as many don’ts. Here are a few of those for you to keep in mind:

  • Never use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. The fluoride contained in these toothpastes is toxic to dogs, and is more harmful to dogs than humans since dogs swallow. Instead, find a toothpaste that has been specially formulated for dogs, like one of the ones listed below.
  • Never use human food as your dog’s primary source of nutrients. Most pet owners know that the occasional bit of peanut butter or leftover chicken (without bones in it, of course) make for great, harmless treats that dogs go crazy over. Still, they should never be used as your dog’s main meal items. Stick with high-quality dry dog food to ensure that your pup’s getting all of its nutritional requirements, especially in regards to its teeth. Here are a few everyday human foods that are bad for canine health around the board, especially their teeth: Sugar, onions, grapes, salt, chocolate, moldy foods, alcohol and raisins.

Dog Teeth Care the Right Way!

This is all very important information to keep in mind, but never forget the biggest doggy dental dos of all: Regular tooth brushing and frequent veterinary check-ups! This is the absolute best form to keep up your dog teeth care. To help get you started, here are a few great toothbrushes and toothpastes that have been made just for dogs:

You can’t go wrong with any of the above suggestions. Take whatever extra steps you can to help with dog dental care today!


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