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Why Dental Care is Crucial to Dogs’ Health and Well-Being

When it comes to dogs’ health and wellness, dental care doesn’t always receive the attention it merits. However, good oral hygiene is just as important for our canine companions as it is for humans—not only for the preservation of teeth, but for overall health, happiness, and longevity as well. As pet care industry professionals, it’s crucial to advocate for and educate pet owners on the importance of dental care for dogs.

How does dental health affect a dog’s overall wellness?

Taking steps to keep your dog’s teeth and gums in good condition can help ensure their health and comfort. Specifically, investing in routine dental care—including at-home solutions and professional teeth cleanings performed by a veterinarian—can prevent the following problems:

  • Periodontal disease. By age three, an estimated 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease. While it may be difficult to fully reverse this condition in older dogs, regular dental care can prevent it from getting worse. Signs of periodontal disease may include bad breath, broken or loose teeth, excessive drooling, bleeding gums, and hesitation to eat or drink.
  • Tooth loss. As the structures supporting a dog’s teeth become damaged and infected, the teeth can begin to loosen and fall out, making it more difficult for the dog to eat. Preventative dental care will help keep these structures healthy, thereby helping dogs retain their teeth for years to come.
  • Pain. Although dogs can’t clearly communicate when something hurts them, periodontal disease can cause a significant amount of pain that can impact their ability to eat and their overall comfort.
  • Organ damage. The bacteria found in plaque can enter a dog’s bloodstream, potentially creating life-threatening health problems by damaging the heart, kidneys, liver, and other organs.

For dog owners, preventative dental care can also help save money in the future by avoiding the need for tooth extractions and the costs associated with medical problems.

How to maintain your dog’s dental health

For dog owners seeking to maintain their canine companion’s oral health and overall wellness, here are a few key steps:

  • Brush your dog’s teeth. While it’s not necessary to brush your dog’s teeth as often as you would your own, regular brushing is a powerful way to prevent plaque from accumulating. Be sure to use toothpaste made specifically for dogs, as ingredients found in toothpastes for humans can be toxic. Look for an enticing flavor such as peanut butter or chicken, and experiment with different types of dog toothbrushes to determine what seems most comfortable for your pup. Another option is to use dog dental wipes, which may be easier to maneuver, but generally won’t get into the crevices in your dog’s mouth as effectively as a toothbrush would.
  • Offer dental treats and chews. There are treats and chews available in a variety of flavors, shapes, textures, and sizes with ingredients designed to remove plaque and freshen breath. Dogs generally love these treats, so they serve as a great supplement to other dental care measures!
  • Schedule professional cleanings. The best way to ensure optimal health for your dog is to visit a trusted veterinarian regularly, including for dental cleanings. In addition to preventative care, your vet can identify any issues that may have gone unnoticed and recommend a plan for ongoing treatment.

For pet care professionals and owners alike, understanding the vital link between canine dental health and overall well-being is crucial for ensuring that our beloved pups can lead long, happy lives. To find a qualified veterinarian, visit the IBPSA Member Directory.