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Dog Dental Care Basics: How to Take Care of Your Dog’s Oral Health

Here’s a statistic to sink your teeth into – a vast majority of dogs will show signs of periodontal disease by the time they turn three years old. This can be prevented by early dental care. Here are the basics.


Writer Roi Kadosh


Why is dog dental care important?

Just like in humans, dog oral care is an important part of overall wellness. Dental disease, if left untreated, can be very painful. Even though cats and dogs hide their pain well, it can lead to changes in eating habits and behavior, seriously affecting your dog’s quality of life. At later stages, it can severely damage your dog’s teeth, gums and jaw. Dental disease can even cause liver, kidney and heart disease. Multiple studies have shown that around 80% of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by around age three. This can be prevented by early dental care. 

It’s easy to learn how to care for your dog’s teeth at home so you can keep bad breath at bay and maintain dental health in between professional cleanings.

You also get to feel good knowing you’re going to give your dog a painless quality of life. Taking a few minutes to attend to your pooch’s smile is a small price to pay for your pet’s ultimate well-being – so don’t neglect dog dental hygiene.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that about 80% of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by around age three.

Five tips for proper dog dental care

1. Maintain daily brushing routine


Dog dental care doesn’t have to be expensive. The best dental care for dogs is done at home. All you need is a good brush in the correct size and with the right bristle firmness, alongside a good quality (and tasty) toothpaste and some patience to learn the correct tooth brushing techniques.

You’ll be surprised at the excellent variety of fun and innovative dog dental health care products, in different styles, sizes, and flavors like peanut butter, chicken, and beef. With time and patience, your dog will get used to having their teeth brushed and won’t be nervous. Depending on which breed you have you might find that brushes with angled handles, very soft bristles, or multiple heads can make getting to the furthest corners of your dog’s mouth much easier. Fingertip brushes are also very useful. Experiment with different brushes and toothpaste to see which your dog prefers and which makes your life easier too! Don’t forget to give your dog a food treat after the session as this is likely to result in good behavior the next time you brush their teeth. 

2. Add dental food and food additives to your dog’s food bowl

Dog dental food comes in special kibble shapes and sizes that help scrub plaque from dogs’ teeth. Some brands also come with highly palatable ingredients that reduce stains and the buildup of bacteria. Be sure to buy a brand that bears the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s Seal of Acceptance as this guarantees that they are suited to promote tooth care for dogs. 

Prescribed dental food

If you’re finding it hard to provide regular dental care for your dog, you could opt for prescription dental food, which you can buy at your veterinary office. These foods are clinically proven to help reduce tooth decay and support effective dog tooth care. The food also contains other ingredients that kill disease-causing bacteria, promoting good dental health for dogs and dental care for puppies.

Dental treats

Dog dental treats are a fun way to practice good dog oral care. You usually only give these dog teeth care treats once or twice a day to help with dog dental care at home. They also create a protective layer on the teeth so treats work as support oral care for dogs. 

Flavored dental powders

A great addition to your adult dog’s oral health toolkit. You can buy these at veterinary stores and simply sprinkle the powder on top of your dog’s food. Probiotics help to inhibit the growth of the bacteria that cause gum disease and prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar promoting good dog dental hygiene and puppy dental care. 

Dental water additives

These can be added to your dog’s water bowl to help with dog dental care. They are tasteless and your dog won’t even know they are there. There are quite a few different options on the market that effectively promote good dog dental health. Dental water additives are excellent for dog teeth care, keep your dog’s breath fresh, and kill plaque-forming bacteria. Teeth care for dogs has never been easier than this and are great way to promote dental care for puppies.

3. Offer your dog dental chews

Dog dental chews are designed to do double duty: They taste delicious to dogs, and they help to mechanically scrape the tooth surface, kind of like a dog toothbrush would. They especially help in the back of the dog’s mouth where they do all their chewing, but they’re not a replacement for toothbrushing.

4. Let your dog play with dental toys


Dog dental toys make your pal happily distracted while they’re improving their dental hygiene. They work by physically removing some of the tooth surface plaque, particularly in the back of the dog’s mouth where they chew, but they’re not a substitute for getting in there with a dog toothbrush.

5. Take your dog for regular dental cleanings

No matter how much at-home dental care you provide for your dog, tartar will still build up over time on your dog’s teeth, just like with our teeth. We may brush our teeth daily, but we still need a dentist to clean our teeth periodically. The same is true for dogs. When enough tartar and gingivitis are present in your dog’s mouth, your veterinarian will recommend a dental cleaning (called dental prophylaxis). Your dog will need to go under general anesthesia to allow a veterinarian to properly clean off all the tartar on their teeth as well as the layer of tartar under the gumline. Some dogs need dental cleanings yearly, and others every few years; it depends on the breed of the dog and the dental care that they receive at home.

If you’re finding it hard to provide regular dental care for your dog, you could opt for prescription dental food which are clinically proven to help reduce tooth decay and support effective dog tooth care.

Now that you know more about the importance of dental care for dogs, you’ll want to make sure it’s all covered. Extractions? Root canals? Crowns? Animalia’s pet insurance plan offers a comprehensive dental package: orthodontia, endodontia and exodontia. Get your pet insurance quote today.


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