If your dog has ever suffered from smelly breath, you will know how horrible it can be. But pongy pooch breath is sadly the least of the problems when it comes to doggy dental health. Gum disease is five times more common in dogs than humans and dogs have a more alkaline mouth, which leads to plaque build up. TV vet Marc Abraham says poor oral hygiene can lead to expensive veterinary treatment if gum disease is left alone, or even more worryingly lead to irreversible damage. Untreated dental issues can even result in life-threatening illness including heart, liver and kidney disease.
Despite this, a recent survey* showed that more than half of British dog owners have never cleaned their dog’s teeth. Getting into good oral hygiene habits with your dog from a young age is crucial in avoiding many of these problems later in life. And if the thought of trying to brush your dog’s teeth fills you with dread, don’t fret – it doesn’t have to be stressful.
To get your started, here are 5 tips for to get your dog’s mouth clean, healthy and smelling fresh!
CHECK OUT YOUR DOG’S MOUTH
If possible, get into the habit of inspecting your dog’s mouth when they are young. Take a look at their teeth and run your fingers along their gums. Doing this regularly will help your dog become comfortable with being handled in this way and will help you to spot any changes or abnormalities so you can alert your vet sooner rather than later.
BRUSH, BUSH, BRUSH!
Brushing your pet’s teeth on a regular basis (daily if possible) will offer huge health benefits throughout their life. The earlier you start the better – if you familiarise your dog with brushing as a puppy, it will be much easier as they older and bigger. Always use a special pet toothbrush – you can start with a finger brush to get your pet used to the sensation before progressing to a brush with harder bristles. Never use human toothpaste, always use one specially formulated for dogs. If you are in doubt about the best way to brush or don’t feel confident doing it yourself you can always speak to your vet.
FEED HIGH QUALITY FOOD
Just like with humans, poor quality or ‘junk food’ will have an impact on your dog’s dental health. Opt for a premium pet food, which has been formulated for your dog’s age, size and breed. Hard food is generally considered better for teeth than a diet of soft food. Avoid feeding table scraps or any human foods.
USE AN ORAL HEALTH SUPPLEMENT
Oral health supplements are a great way to help maintain a healthy mouth for your canine companion. Gels such as Pettura Oral Health can reduce tartar and freshen breath. These can be added to your dog’s food, or just put some on your finger and let your pet lick it off. Once they are used to the taste, you can even try rubbing some gel directly onto their gums and teeth.
GIVE SAFE CHEWS
Chewing is part of your dog’s natural behaviour – it exercises their jaw and cleans their teeth. Giving bones is a contentious issue but if you are going to do it, always give raw bones of a size that are suitable for your dog – if in doubt, check with your vet. There are also plenty of dental chews on the market, which can help with cleaning your pooch’s pegs and leaving them with fresh smelling breath. Not all of these are created equal so make sure you take the time to check out the ingredients and ensure they are suitable for your pup.
This post is sponsored by Pettura.
*Survey of 2000 UK dog owners conducted by One Poll August 2016.