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How to Care for Your Dog’s Teeth

April 01, 2024

Did you realize that dogs can experience many of the same dental issues as people? Toothaches are equally unpleasant and hazardous for Fido as they are for humans. In some ways, they are even worse: After all, Man’s Best Friend cannot care for his own teeth. He also can’t make an appointment for himself, or even tell you what is wrong. In this article, a local Southern Utah veterinarian outlines some common dental disorders in dogs and provides advice on how to take care of your dog’s choppers.

How Should I Care for Fido’s Teeth?

Caring for Fido’s teeth does not need to be difficult or time-consuming. Brushing is the best option. However, we know that not all dogs will tolerate it.  If that doesn’t work for you, there are other solutions to consider. 

Dental treats and chews are designed to eliminate plaque, and reduce tartar buildup, both of which can help to prevent gum disease and infection. You could also use mouth rinses or dental flakes. Another approach is to give Fido a chew bone, such as a Nylabone, coated in doggie toothpaste. Ask your vet for advice.

Speaking of veterinarians, you should have your pet’s teeth checked at least once a year, beginning at the age of one. In between appointments, watch for warning signs of doggy dental issues. If you observe anything unusual, contact your animal clinic immediately.

Finally, ensure that Fido always has access to fresh, clean water. On warmer days, give him a couple of ice cubes to snack on. Just don’t give him too many!

How Do I Brush Fido’s Teeth?

Although we’ve been giving Fido chew sticks for a long time, brushing his teeth is a new experience for many pet owners. Of course, you’ll need to get your canine companion on board with the procedure.

Here are some suggestions for that:

  1. Start In Puppygarten: This will be much easier if you get Fido used to the process while he is still a puppy.  Ideally, he’ll grow up accepting it as a normal part of being a Very Good Boy.
  2. Take your time! Don’t simply place the toothbrush in your pet’s mouth and hope for the best. Get him accustomed to having his teeth and gums touched first. Use praise and treats to help him develop a good association.
  3. Make it a habit. Our four-legged pals frequently do best when they’re kept on a constant routine. Make the time to brush Fido’s teeth every day. Once your canine buddy becomes accustomed to the practice, it should just take a minute or so.
  4. Only use doggy dental products: You can acquire toothbrushes specifically developed for Fido. Finger toothbrushes are also allowed, and may be more convenient for you. However, do not use anything that is meant for people. Our toothbrushes are not designed to work well with canine biting angles. Plus, toothpaste designed for humans may contain ingredients that are inappropriate for pets.
  5. Choose flavored toothpastes. When it comes to toothpaste, you might want to get a flavored one. This will make the experience more enjoyable for Fido and, hence, easier for you.
  6. Sweeten the deal. Although it may appear contradictory, treating Fido with a yummy snack just after brushing his teeth can help him develop a more positive attitude about the process.
  7. Don’t force it. Dogs can be stubborn when it comes to getting their teeth cleaned. If Fido isn’t having it, don’t press the issue. This is not something you should force, especially on a bigger dog. You may want to look into other options.

Are Chew Toys Good for Fido’s Teeth?

They are: as long as you choose safe and appropriate solutions. It’s actually really important for your canine companion to have adequate chew toys. These remove plaque and food residue from your dog’s teeth, helping to keep them clean. They also increase saliva flow, which benefits your pet’s oral health as well. Plus, they keep Fido’s jaws strong.

There are several factors to consider here. Bones, as you may be aware, are controversial. Although the typical image of Fido happily nibbling on bones is certainly iconic, bones are not safe for Man’s Best Friend. Cooked bones can break into very sharp shards. These not only provide a significant choking risk, but they can also cause internal injury. Rawhide is hazardous to many dogs for the same reasons.

Raw bones are less likely to break, but they can still cause problems due to germs and bacteria.  Ask your Southern Utah vet for specific advice.

What Are Some Of The Most Common Dental Issues In Dogs?

Fido could be susceptible to a range of dental issues. Many of the typical dental problems that our canine companions suffer from are remarkably similar to those that people have.

Here are some of the major ones:


Misalignments: Your canine companion will still be adorable even if he has a crooked smile. However, doggie dental care is more concerned with health and function than with appearance. If your pet has an overbite or underbite, he may have difficulty chewing his food. That can lead to nutritional issues, and increases the risk of choking.

Abscesses: Hopefully, you will never have to experience this firsthand, but abscesses are excruciatingly painful. They’re also dangerous. While any infection has the potential to cause harm, infections in the mouth are especially concerning because they are so close to the brain.

Broken Teeth: Given that Fido uses his mouth to play and carry things, this is hardly surprising. (His love for chasing sticks doesn’t help matters here, either.)

Overcrowding: This condition is frequently seen in little dogs. Small breeds just cannot accommodate all of those teeth! Overcrowding can result in or contribute to a variety of canine dental problems, including sinus infections. They may also limit your pet’s chewing capacity.

Gum Disease: Dogs and humans are both susceptible to gum disease. Approximately 80% of puppies over the age of three are affected. The illness is initially painless and asymptomatic, but it eventually causes tooth movement and loss. It may also result in gum and bone loss. Even more concerning, it has been connected to a variety of significant health issues, including cardiovascular disease. This is because the infection could travel from Fido’s mouth to his essential organs via his bloodstream.

Indications of Dental Problems In Dogs

Fido cannot tell you when something is wrong, so it’s important for you to keep an eye out for warning signs. Here are some of the main ones to look for:

  • Ropy, Stringy, Or Excessive Drool
  • Misalignments
  • Bad Breath
  • Swelling
  • Eating More Slowly
  • Bleeding Gums
  • Tartar Buildup
  • Reduced Interest In Play
  • Visible Cracks
  • Preferring Soft Foods
  • Chewing On One Side Of The Mouth
  • Dribbling Food
  • Withdrawal/Antisocial Behavior
  • Not Wanting Face/Head Touched

If you see any of these issues, please contact your veterinarian straight away. Dental disorders can have a substantial impact on Fido’s overall health and well-being. Not only are they very painful, there is a possibility of infection. Furthermore, dental illnesses may impair Fido’s ability to chew and eat. This may cause dietary deficiencies and an increased risk of choking.

Do you have any questions about caring for your pet’s teeth? Have you seen any of the warning indicators listed above? Contact us here at your Southern Utah pet hospital today.

Posted in Dog Care

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