A pretty smile may not be on your dog’s priority list, but having sound teeth to chew his food certainly is. Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s teeth as part of his annual checkup, but don’t wait until a yearly exam to help prevent your dog from developing dental disease. Tartar and plaque can form on your dog’s teeth as they can on your own, and tooth loss and gum disease can just as easily develop.
Some dental problems may be a result of genetic manipulation and breeding. Some miniature dogs, for example, may have tooth problems from birth due to having the same number of teeth as a large dog being crammed into their smaller jaws. Other dogs develop dental problems as they age. Whatever the cause, help your dog in the dental department by cleaning his teeth twice weekly and following some of these suggestions.
1. Accustom your dog to having his teeth cleaned early in life. Make the session a game and reward your dog with a tartar-control treat.
2. Two types of teeth-cleaning products exist that fit over the pet owner’s fingertips. One is a rubber device a little larger than a thimble with tiny rubber spikes on it. The other has an actual brush on it so that you can brush your dog’s teeth, using only tooth- paste that is intended for dogs. The brush can be sterilized in a microwave oven after each use.
3. If you prefer to use an actual brush, use a soft toothbrush meant for a baby.
4. If your dog has a very small mouth, use a human eyebrow brush.
5. Try a little baking soda instead of pet toothpaste to clean your dog’s teeth. Caution: Human toothpaste is intended to be spit out and will make your dog sick if he swallows it.
6. An alternative way to clean your dog’s teeth is to rub them several times a week with a dampened terrycloth washcloth. To make it more enjoyable for your dog, rub a little garlic on the cloth.
7. If your dog runs in the other direction when he sees you whip out the toothbrush and paste, offer him treats or food products that are designed to remove plaque and prevent the buildup of tartar. Give him some hard, dry, crunchy food as a part of his normal diet to help clean plaque deposits. Manufacturers have developed foods and treats to reduce the amount of tartar and plaque. Most are available in grocery stores and supermarkets.
8. Discuss with your veterinarian having your dog’s teeth cleaned professionally. Teeth cleaning requires that your dog be anesthetized.
9. If your dog has bad breath, it could signal the sign of disease. Have your dog checked by a veterinarian. To help reduce bad doggie breath, purchase products intended to make your dog’s breath smell better. They are available at pet stores.
10. As an alternative way to improve your dog’s breath, mix three parts water to one part non mint liquid chlorophyl (available in health food stores) in a medicine bottle. Liquid chlorophyl is a natural deodorant. Give your dog one dropper full daily to fight bad breath from the inside.