Not only is February “Spay & Neuter Month”, but it’s also National Pet Dental Health Month. You might think your dog has shiny white healthy teeth, but there still could be hidden issues that could cause problems (and even surgery!) in the future. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure your dog’s dental health is tip-top!
1. Check with your vet.
Always remember your dog’s annual checkups, and make sure to ask your vet to look at their teeth, even if you don’t suspect anything is wrong. You can also ask for a referral to a veterinary dentist if your dog already has issues or is prone to them. They can also recommend preventative care.
2. Teach your dog to be clam during visits.
We ALL hate the dentist. Someone poking around in your mouth? Gross. You can bet your dog will likely hate it, too. You need to take time to teach them that it’s no big deal when your vet inspects their teeth. Make sure you do this in small stages. Touch their mouth, lift their lip up, open their muzzle, lightly touch their teeth (be careful!). Get them used to these actions, and visits should be much smoother. Never go further than what your dog is comfortable with, and remember to reward them with love and treats when they behave well.
3. Pay attention to any changes.
After you’ve grown familiar with what your dog’s mouth should look like, make sure you pay close attention to it in case anything begins to look like it shouldn’t. Inflammation, growths, odd discolouration, etc. You might not think it’s a big deal, but always better to be safe than sorry.
4. Brushy brushy!
Yes, you can brush your dogs’ teeth! Don’t use regular toothpaste though. There are meat flavoured ones your pooch will certainly appreciate more. As far as what tools to use, there are brushes, rubber fingertip applicators, pre-soaked dental wipes available. *Protip* Brush the outside surface of the teeth in small circles, avoiding any contact with the gums.
5. Additives and supplements
Some dogs just totally will NOT be okay with having their teeth touched. If this is your case, there are a multitude of alternatives you can use; treats, chews, sprays, gels, special diets, and additives for water and food are all available. Research has proven varied effectiveness, so see what works best for your dog.