Dog dental care is an aspect of pet health that often gets overlooked. However, just like humans, dogs require regular dental hygiene to prevent diseases, maintain overall health, and ensure they live a happy, pain-free life. Below are seven FAQs on dog dental health that we often hear:

Do dogs get cavities?

While it’s less common for dogs to develop cavities compared to humans, it doesn’t entirely exempt them from this dental issue. The difference in diet and the unique structure of canine teeth reduce the risk, yet don’t provide full immunity against cavities.

The main dental concern for dogs, however, shifts towards gum disease, a prevalent issue that affects a vast majority of canines by the age of three. It’s crucial to recognize that while cavities may not be the primary concern, they can occur, especially if a dog’s dental health is neglected. Implementing a consistent dental hygiene routine is essential to prevent the wide range of dental problems dogs can face, with a focus on staving off periodontal disease, which poses a more significant threat to their health and well-being. 


How Often Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

Brushing your dog’s teeth should become as routine as your own oral hygiene practice, with the ideal frequency being once daily. This daily care helps ward off the accumulation of plaque and tartar, culprits behind more serious dental ailments. While committing to a daily regimen is the gold standard, not all pet owners may find this feasible due to time constraints or their dog’s tolerance for brushing. If daily brushing proves to be challenging, striving for a minimum of three times per week is a good compromise.

The cornerstone of dental care is consistency. Initiating and adhering to a regular brushing schedule not only contributes to the prevention of dental issues but also facilitates a smoother, more agreeable experience for your dog over time. Introducing this habit gradually can help your dog become more comfortable with the process, ultimately fostering an environment where dental care is less stressful for both pet and owner. The key is to establish and maintain a routine that aligns with your lifestyle while ensuring the health and well-being of your dog’s teeth and gums.


What Kind of Toothpaste Should I Use for My Dog?

Choosing the correct toothpaste for your dog’s dental routine is critical for their safety and the effectiveness of their oral hygiene. Human toothpaste contains several ingredients that are harmful to dogs, including fluoride, which can lead to serious health complications if ingested.

To ensure the well-being of your pet, select a toothpaste that has been specifically formulated for dogs. These toothpastes come in a variety of flavors that are not only safe but also appealing to your dog, such as chicken, beef, or vanilla mint, making the tooth-brushing experience more enjoyable for them. 

Remember, the flavor and texture that work best will depend on your dog’s preferences, so you might need to try a few different types before finding the perfect match. 


Are bones good for dogs’ teeth or are they harmful?

The debate around bones as a dental care tool for dogs is nuanced. Advocates for bones suggest that the act of gnawing can aid in the mechanical removal of plaque, potentially mimicking the natural cleaning processes observed in wild canids. However, it’s imperative to approach this practice with caution. The risk associated with offering dogs bones, whether cooked, raw, or synthetic, cannot be understated!

Hard bones have been documented to lead to dental fractures, which can result in painful experiences for dogs and costly vet visits for owners. Additionally, bones can present significant health hazards, including choking risks and the possibility of causing intestinal blockages or perforations, which are serious medical emergencies.

In light of these concerns, pet owners are encouraged to consider alternative options. The market offers a variety of dental chews and toys specifically designed to support oral health without the inherent risks associated with bones. These products are engineered to be both safe and effective in reducing plaque and tartar buildup, offering a compromise that benefits your dog’s dental hygiene. 


How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Dental Problems?

Identifying dental issues in your dog early on can make a significant difference in managing their oral health effectively. Here are a few clear indicators of dental distress:

  • Persistently bad breath, which shouldn’t be dismissed as just “dog breath.”
  • Reluctance or struggle to eat, particularly hard foods, which can be a telltale sign of pain or discomfort.
  • Excessive drooling, which may contain traces of blood, is another symptom not to be overlooked. Upon closer inspection, you might notice that your dog’s gums appear red, swollen, or even bleed easily when touched, which are all signs of gum inflammation or infection. 
  • Presence of visible tartar – a hard, brownish deposit on the teeth – signals the buildup of plaque and the onset of potential periodontal disease.
  • Behavioral changes, such as pawing at the mouth or a decreased interest in chew toys, can also indicate dental discomfort.

If you observe any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek veterinary advice promptly. Early intervention by a professional can address and mitigate the issue, ensuring your dog’s dental health is restored and maintained, avoiding the progression to more severe conditions.


What Does Professional Dental Cleaning Involve?

Undergoing a professional dental cleaning is a comprehensive procedure that ensures your dog’s oral health is thoroughly assessed and cared for. This process begins with the administration of anesthesia, which is crucial for your dog’s comfort and safety throughout the cleaning. Once under anesthesia, a veterinarian or a veterinary dentist performs a detailed examination of your dog’s mouth. This includes checking for any signs of dental disease, such as gingivitis, periodontitis, or loose teeth.

Following the examination, the dental professional proceeds to remove plaque and tartar from both the visible parts of the teeth and those hidden beneath the gum line using specialized dental instruments. This step is vital for preventing the progression of gum disease and protecting the overall health of your dog. The cleaning may also involve polishing the teeth to smooth out any roughness on the enamel, which helps to slow down future plaque buildup.

In cases where advanced dental issues are discovered, such as significant tooth decay or deep periodontal pockets, the procedure could include additional treatments. These might range from tooth extractions to more extensive periodontal therapy, depending on the severity of the dental problems encountered.


Can Diet Influence My Dog’s Dental Health?

Certainly!! Specific types of dog food are designed with dental benefits in mind. For example, certain dry kibble formulations can play a part in mechanically scrubbing the teeth as your dog chews, potentially reducing plaque accumulation. However, it’s essential to recognize that while such foods can assist in dental hygiene, they do not eliminate the need for comprehensive dental care routines, including regular brushing.

It’s worth noting that some dogs may benefit from a diet that includes specially formulated dental health foods recommended by veterinarians. These diets are crafted to address specific dental issues and can be a valuable component of a holistic dental care strategy.


Remember that February is National Pet Dental Awareness Month which means 10% off all dental-related products at services at The Pet Clinic! If you have questions or concerns about your dog’s dental health, or just want to schedule a routine cleaning, please contact us at 503-370-9988.