February is National Pet Dental Health Month and the perfect time to schedule your dog’s annual dental exam and professional cleaning. Even though dogs can develop many of the same oral health issues that we do, many pet owners don’t realize that their dog needs to receive regular cleanings. “And that’s unfortunate because it is estimated that over 80 percent have significant oral pathology.“ (PetMD.com) Scheduling an appointment is an important first step, but there are things you can do at home to improve and maintain your pup’s dental health.
Brush Those Teeth
If you only make one change, the most important thing you can do is to brush your dog’s teeth. Speak with your vet for recommendations on a doggie toothbrush and toothpaste as well as proper techniques. Ideally, you would brush your dog’s teeth everyday, but up to four times a week has been shown to be adequate. You may also consider integrating treats intended to help clean the teeth. If you haven’t been brushing your dog’s teeth, don’t jump all in at once. Begin slowly until your dog gets comfortable with the process.
Know the Signs
Knowledge is power and, in this case, the key to prevention. Regular dental checkups are key to monitoring your dog’s dental health journey, but a little knowledge about symptoms can go a long way if your next visit is months away. If your dog shows any of the following symptoms, you may want to schedule an appointment with your vet: red or inflamed gums, offensive breath, loose or broken teeth, or excessive drooling. Your dog may also avoid eating or paw at his mouth excessively. Periodically monitoring changes in your dog’s behavior and oral health, could save you and your pup heartache (and a toothache) down the road.
Prevention is Key
Dog toys are more than just fun, they give your pup a chance to strengthen his teeth. This can go a long way to prevent breakage and loosening teeth. Reach out to your vet for recommendations on preferred chew toys. Another way to help prevent dental health issues is to evaluate your dog’s diet. Look for foods and treats that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval and focus on providing a nutritionally balanced diet for your dog. “Avoid foods made with by-products, meals, and cereal grains as they are more apt to stick to your dog’s teeth. Instead, look for a food made from meats, vegetables, and fruits.” (TheHonestKitchen.com)
Pet dental health is about much more than just avoiding smelly breath. Poor dental health can have a serious effect on your dog’s overall quality of life – from pain and discomfort to malnutrition. Call Ashburn Veterinary Hospital today to schedule a dental check up for your pup!