Pet dental care is essential to an animal like a dog. Having good teeth allows dogs to chew and digest their food properly, and this, in turn, affects their overall health and well-being. Even so, many dog owners are on the fence about brushing their dogs’ teeth. Some argue that it isn’t necessary, while some may be considering the logic of making it part of their dog’s grooming routine and adding dog toothbrushes and toothpaste to their arsenal of pet care essentials, like dog collars and feeding bowls.
Those that remain unconvinced about brushing their pets’ teeth likely believe this: if wild animals don’t have to have their teeth brushed, why should the same apply for their dogs? Dog owners who have had previous pets may have also had different experiences with regard to canine dental health. They may think that some dogs are fine without it or, on their part, they may hesitate to brush their dog’s teeth because they lack knowledge of how to do it properly and they fear that they may hurt their dog in the process.
Knowing that there are so many varying opinions on the topic, which should you believe as a dog owner? Is it a good idea to brush your dog’s teeth, will it actually make a difference, and how often should you implement a brushing routine? If you’re a dog owner with uncertainties on the matter, here are four things you should know:
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth Can Make a Big Difference in Their Health
First, dog owners should know that regularly brushing their dog’s teeth has the same effects as brushing human teeth—namely, that it helps prevent bad breath, tooth loss, and periodontal disease. When bacteria builds up in your dog’s mouth, this can cause a nasty odor when they exhale. And just like with human teeth, food particles can cling to your dog’s teeth and gums, which form plaque. Later on, this plaque can develop into tartar, which can inflame and infect the gums. This, in turn, can cause gingivitis, leading to potential tooth loss on your dog’s part.
If you brush your dog’s teeth, it ensures your dog’s teeth-supporting structures like their gums and periodontal ligaments remain strong and healthy. They will remain in place, letting your dog chew their food, treats, and chew toys with ease and comfort.
Apart from helping them observe essential dental care, regular brushing can affect your dog’s overall health. Unaddressed bacteria infecting the gums can find its way into your pet’s bloodstream, eventually getting into other organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys and potentially damaging them. If you don’t want to risk your dog getting ill or shortening their life due to poor dental health, it’s a good idea to learn how to brush their teeth properly.
Dog Owners Have Different Beliefs about Pet Dental Health
As mentioned above, tooth brushing for dogs is a contentious topic among dog owners. Recent surveys reveal that a low percentage of dog owners brush their dog’s teeth, and some respondents have even declared that they will never do so—citing that wolves and street dogs live just fine without any dental care.
While it’s true that wolves and street dogs can live without access to dental care, this doesn’t mean their teeth are in the best condition. Experts have shed light on this statement, saying that it’s quite common for wild animals to have dental issues. Wild animals may also not live long enough to experience the same health problems that household pets encounter. If it boils down to what’s healthiest for your dog and what could help them live a happy, health domesticated life, it’s still wiser to observe proper dental care practices like you would for yourself.
Do Groomers Brush Dogs’ Teeth?
Many pet owners wonder if a visit to the groomer can also address their canine’s dental needs. The answer is, often, yes. Many professional grooming services include tooth brushing as part of their package or as an additional service. Groomers use dog-friendly toothpaste and brushes, similar to the ones owners might use at home. However, it’s important to note that while groomers can provide a superficial clean, they don’t replace the need for regular dental check-ups with a veterinarian or more in-depth cleanings to ensure optimal dental health.
Dogs’ Teeth Worn Down
Over time, it’s not uncommon to notice a dog’s teeth wearing down, especially if they have a habit of chewing on hard objects like bones or toys. While some wear is natural, excessive or uneven wear can be concerning. It can lead to sensitivity, pain, or even infections if the wear exposes the root or pulp of the tooth. If you observe that your dog’s teeth seem excessively worn or if they show signs of discomfort while eating, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian. They can provide guidance on how to prevent further wear and whether any dental procedures might be beneficial.
Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other’s Teeth?
Have you ever noticed dogs greeting each other by licking or nuzzling at each other’s mouths? This behavior can be traced back to when they were pups. Puppies would lick their mother’s mouth as a sign of submission and to encourage her to regurgitate food for them. As adult dogs, this behavior evolves into a social gesture. Licking each other’s teeth or mouths can be a sign of submission, affection, or bonding. However, it’s essential to observe the context in which this happens. If one dog seems annoyed or if the behavior becomes obsessive, it might be necessary to intervene or consult a behaviorist.
Dental Health Varies According to the Dog Breed and Size
A dog’s dental health can vary according to their breed. Some veterinary experts note that smaller dogs tend to have worse dental problems than larger breeds. Although they don’t know the exact reason, it’s generally believed it has something to do with the head shapes of smaller dogs. Compared to larger breeds, small dogs have compact heads and jaw builds. This means that their teeth can grow in overcrowded structures, creating less space between the teeth and more places for food to lodge and collect bacteria.
In addition, some dogs seem to have better dental health than others whether their owners brush their teeth or not. As such, some pet owners think that regular dental care is unnecessary, especially if their own pets seem to not have any problems with their teeth. Proper dental health for a dog depends on the exact scenario, but remember that tooth brushing can make a big difference to a small dog or a dog that’s prone to dental health problems.
You must Learn How to Properly Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Some dog owners hesitate to brush their dog’s teeth because they don’t know how to, but like other tasks related to taking care of a pet, it’s something that can be learned and practiced. The first things you’ll need are dog-friendly toothpaste and a toothbrush that’s safe for dogs. Using dental care items that aren’t designed for pets can be harmful to them. For example, toothpaste with fluoride can be dangerous when dogs ingest it. If your dog doesn’t know how to spit on their own, this is a risky possibility.
Once you’ve purchased the right toothpaste and brush for them, train your dog to let you brush their teeth. Start by introducing the toothpaste and toothbrush to them, and let them smell the brush and lick the paste. After a while, try to brush a front tooth or two, then, gradually adjust to brushing the rest of their teeth. You can use positive reinforcement to encourage them to comply next time.
There are various health and wellness benefits to brushing your dog’s teeth. Some breeds truly need it more than others. When it comes to learning how often you need to brush your dog’s teeth, it’s best to consult a veterinarian. They can assess your pet’s dental health and recommend a suitable course of action, like how frequently you should brush your dog’s teeth.
In summary, it isn’t only humans who can benefit from having pearly whites. Brush your dog’s teeth as often as recommended, and bring out their beautiful smile.