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February is Pet Dental Health Awareness Month

February is Pet Dental Health Awareness Month

February is Pet Dental Health Awareness Month

As a dog owner, do you know how important it is to keep up with your pup's dental health? How about some stats…. Gum and dental problems are 5x more common in dogs than Humans and 70% admit to never having brushed their dog's teeth. worryingly over 80% of dogs over the age of 3yrs have dental disease!

Poor dental hygiene can lead to major health problems, not only in the mouth but throughout the dog's entire body, such as Kidney, Liver and Heart disease. Even if your dog has regular brushing habits, February is a great chance to get your pup on track for optimum oral well-being.

Continue reading to learn more about what is required for healthy dog teeth.

Healthy Teeth

Dogs have 42 adult teeth – 20 on the upper jaw and 22 bottom jaw. Puppies have 28 needles (!!) that they will lose around 5-6 months of age. The small teeth at the front are Incisors and are to hold things or pull meat from the bone.  The large “fangs” are called Canines are used to grip and they are at each “corner” of the jaws. Then there are the Premolars and Molars at the side and back of your dogs mouth which are used to chew and grind the food for swallowing and digestion.

Whilst Dogs breath does have a smell – it shouldn’t be unpleasant. Teeth should be white and stain free, whilst being free from damage like cracks, cavity or chips. Teeth should be firm in the gums and not lose or wobbly.

The colour of your dogs gums is a good indicator of general health so be aware of what is a normal colour for your dog. They should be pink in colour, with no lumps, bumps, redness or bleeding.

Common signs of Dental disease

Although many dog owners may not realise it, taking care of your dogs teeth is just as important as brushing your own teeth.

Bacteria in a dogs mouth starts to form plaque which attaches solid to teeth and becomes tartar. This then starts to attack the gums and cause Periodontitis. This is the term used for infection in the mouth damaging gums and teeth. The immune system will attack and cause inflammation so gums pull away and a cycle of decay occurs.

Common signs of dental disease include:

  •  Swollen or red Bleeding gums – You should look out for this on toys or chews.
  • Reluctance or difficulty eating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tartar build up
  • Tooth loss
  • Bad breath (This can be a sign of various health issues so best to get checked)
  • Dribbling or sudden increase in dribbling
  • Strange noises when eating.
  • Pain – reluctance to let you touch the mouth
  • Nasal discharge and sneezing – advance disease can cause bone loss between oral and Nasal cavity

Regular dog teeth cleaning can help avoid build-up of tartar and bacteria that can cause pain or tooth loss. Healthy fresh diet, checking dogs teeth regularly for damage and taking preventative measures will all avoid costly vet visits down the road.

Here are some tips on how to keep your pet's teeth healthy and clean:

Having dog teeth that are healthy and clean can make a big difference in how your dog feels, as well as how long their teeth last.

1. Brush their teeth regularly with a pet-safe toothpaste

The best way to maintain their dental hygiene is to brush their teeth regularly with a pet-safe toothpaste. Not only does it help remove tartar and bacteria from the dog's mouth, but it can also reduce the risk of gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath. You should brush their teeth ideally three times a week. It's a good idea to start when they are puppies so they get used to it.

Start by introducing your pup to a toothbrush and some doggy toothpaste, letting them smell and lick the bristles and paste before actually using it in their mouth. This way they can become comfortable with the process and less intimidated. Start slow and gradually build up to brushing. Think about short sessions where you just use your finger and touch the gums. When they are comfortable you can move on to brushing, focus on the outer surfaces of the teeth, making sure to get up close to their gum line.

Make sure to get dog toothpaste because there are certain chemicals like Xylitol, found in human toothpaste that can be dangerous for your dog. For me its really important anything I give my dogs is Natural. Dorwest Herbs do a fabulous Roast Dinner flavoured toothpaste or you can even make your own.

 One simple recipe is - 

  • 3 tbsp unrefined organic Coconut Oil – Coconut Oil contains Lauric Acid which helps control oral bacteria.
  • Pinch of cinnamon -  Cinnamon is anti-bacterial.
  • ½ tsp Freshly chopped Parsley or Mint leaves – to fight bad breath.
  • ½ tsp Kelp (If available)

You may want to include ¼ tsp Baking Soda – The texture helps removes stubborn plaque build up but Baking soda can induce vomiting in some dogs if they swallow it so you may want to leave this out.

Place the Coconut oil in a container over hot water or short burst in the microwave to make it soft and pliable. Simply add the other ingredients and mix in. Stored in an sealed container at room temperature for later. You only need a pea sized amount to be effective.

I would check with your vet that your dog is ok with the ingredients – especially coconut oil as it is high in fat.

2. Feed them dental-friendly foods, treats and Supplements.

In addition to brushing your pup's teeth, there are other things you can do that will make a difference in their dental health. Chew toys and Natural fresh diets with bones are great options for helping reduce plaque build-up on their teeth. Chewing is also a natural stress reliver and a great way to keep your dog occupied.

Feeding them fresh bones, as well as dental-friendly foods and treats can go a long way towards maintaining their teeth. Not only will fresh bones help stop build-up such as plaque and grime, they also aid with fresh breath, much like a mint would do for us.

Raw bones are also rich on calcium which help teeth stay strong. Other good sources of Calcium are Swiss cheese, Carob powder, kelp and always a big favourite of mine - dark green leafy vegetables

Probiotics remove harmful Bacteria and can be provided through Bones but also feeding yoghurt and kefir.

You should however avoid manufactured “DENTAL TREATS” full of additives and false flavourings such as DENTASTIX.

3. Take them to the vet for regular check-ups and cleanings

Scheduling routine check-ups and dental cleaning is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. They help to ensure that your furry friend is in good health and free of any problems. During a check-up, your vet should examine your pet, listen to its heart and lungs, evaluate its teeth and gums, check its temperature, and overall look at how it is doing.

Cleanings involve removing plaque, tartar, and debris so your pet's teeth can stay strong and healthy. You could also ask about your vet about supplements and other preventative measures you can take at home.

By following these simple tips, you can help keep your pet's smile healthy and bright!

February might be Pet Dental Health Awareness Month, but this doesn’t mean you should only take care of their teeth this month - keep up the good work all year round by brushing their teeth regularly with a pet-safe toothpaste, feeding them dental-friendly foods and treats, and taking them to the vet for regular check-ups and cleanings. Doing so will ensure that your beloved pet has a healthy and happy smile, now and in the years to come!