There’s no better feeling than walking through the front door after a long day of work and you’re greeted by your most loyal, lovable, and adorable companion as if you’ve been away for a month! Those sweet, slobbery, yet STINKY kisses sure do put a smile on your face but, what is up with your dog’s breath? As humans, we are consistently encouraged by medical professionals to focus on taking care of our teeth. We are told to brush at least twice a day, floss once a day, use mouth wash, stray away from sugary foods, and visit the dentist twice a year. But, have you wondered what you should be doing to ensure your fur baby’s dental health?
Here at Legler Orthodontics we love our dogs, they are our pets and a part of our family and we want to do whatever we can to keep them healthy and happy. We work with teeth all day long and we’re a part of those medical professionals that constantly push for dental education and health amongst our patients and the people in our community. But, as much as our team loves each and every one of our doggies, we were curious what do we need to know about our dog’s teeth? What should we be doing to keep them healthy?
We decided to take the next step and learn all about dental health for dogs! We visited one of our local vet offices, the VCA Florida Veterinary League and had the pleasure of speaking with their Medical Director, Dr. Darrell Horn who has been practicing for 26 years and Dr. Jeremy Nix, a recent graduate from the University of Tennessee Veterinary School. They sat us down and told us everything we need to know about keeping our dog’s teeth sparkling and strong!
The reason our dogs have such stinky, gross breath is due to plaque build-up and tartar formation. Now, we’ve been told for years to brush our teeth twice a day but, do you brush your dog’s teeth? We bet not! It’s recommended by vets to brush their teeth daily to prevent food and bacteria from building up, which commonly leads to plaque, gum irritation, and infections. But we know, this task is proven to be quite difficult and most likely not realistic. So, Dr. Horn and Dr. Nix gave us some great ideas to make up for our slacking doggy parenting skills.
Step 1: Get GOOD Food
Quality food will nourish their body and keep their teeth strong. Stray away from wet mushy food that is not only fattening, but does nothing to help their teeth. You want to look for dry food that has big kibbles and a granular crumbly surface. These large kibbles allow the dogs to really bite into the food and the abrasive surface of the kibble rubs against the side of the tooth, allowing the plaque to loosen and fall off. Here is the type of food Dr. Horn and Dr. Nix recommend:
Step 2: Dental Treats and Powder
It’s important to give your dog healthy dental treats that are not only healthy, but improve their breath immensely. Suggested types would be dental chews, bones, and biscuits from Greenies and Del Monte Tartar Check Dog Biscuits. Also, you can use VetriScience Perio Support, which is a powder designed for use in between scheduled dental cleanings to help maintain clean teeth and fresh breath. It’s formulated to help control plaque formation and to support gum health. All you have to do is use a small amount and sprinkle it over their food.
Step 3: Schedule a Dental Cleaning
Depending on your dog’s dental situation, it is encouraged to get dental cleanings. Most big dogs may never need a dental cleaning but, small dogs are unfortunately not so lucky. It is so important to bring your dog in for a dental cleaning while they are young. In a dental cleaning the vet has to put your dog asleep and as they get older, they are at a higher risk of having problems while going under anesthesia. X-Rays will be taken, an overall check will be done, and a decision will be made for your dog to either have just a cleaning and polish or if some areas need further attention.
Step 4: Toys
You want to make sure the toys you buy for your dog are safe. Fractured pet teeth are one of the most common dental problems encountered by veterinary dentists. This happens when dogs are allowed to chew on objects that are just too hard for their teeth. Strictly avoid bones, cow hoofs, pig ears, hard and thick rawhides, plastic or nylon bones and large ice cubes. Rule of thumb, you want to be able to indent the surface of the toy with your finger nail. Try using a toy soft enough to chew but not break off into their mouth. Dr. Nix recommends the soft toys with the hole in the middle. Put a little peanut butter inside and your dog will be one happy camper!
Step 5: Try to Brush Their Teeth
Even though it may be a pain it is encouraged to try and brush your dog’s teeth once a week. Not only will it help prevent periodontal disease, it will help freshen their breath and get them used to having people mess with their mouth. A specific dog toothbrush and toothpaste is recommended:
Our experience at the VCA Florida Veterinary League was extremely informative and has helped us better understand the importance of keeping our doggie’s teeth healthy. We can’t thank Dr. Horn and Dr. Nix enough for the tips they gave us. We encourage you to practice these steps and keep a close eye on your dog’s mouth. Say goodbye to smelly dog breath and hello to a new and improved fresh, healthy, and strong doggie smile! Those slobbery kisses will now be irresistible!
Check out our video below for our time spent at the VCA Florida Veterinary League:
For more information, check out these websites: