Be careful not to dismiss your dog’s bad breath as just “dog breath”. Exactly like their fur parents, dogs with healthy mouths should have a neutral smelling breath. If that is not the case, the most common culprit is poor dental hygiene.
Whether you have noticed that your dog has bad teeth and breath or are just an exceptional owner who wants to read up on the topic to ensure their fur baby’s dental health is excellent, read on. This blog will cover everything you need to know about how to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy.
Why does my dog’s breath smell?
There are many reasons why your dog can be suffering from bad breath, and finding out which one it is might require a trip to the vet. While diet and food allergies, as well as underlying illnesses such as kidney disease and diabetes, can play a role, the most common cause of a dog’s smelly breath is dental disease. In fact, in Australia, up to 80% of dogs are affected by dental disease by the time they turn 3 years old.
How to tell if your dog has poor dental hygiene
Checking if your dog has a healthy mouth and good dental hygiene is easy — simply look at both their teeth and gums:
- Check their teeth
Just like us humans, dogs’ teeth should be pearly white. If you have noticed your puppy’s teeth turn yellow as they grow older and have thought it normal with age, that is not the case. Yellow or brown teeth result from tartar and plaque accumulating over the years, and, exactly as it is for us, that’s not healthy for their teeth.
- Inspect their gums
The difference between healthy dog gums versus unhealthy ones can be noticed immediately by checking your pooch’s mouth. Healthy dog gums are a salmon pink colour, moist, shiny and smooth. Unhealthy gums are red in colour, dry or sticky to the touch, look roughened and can even present abnormal growths.
In very bad or advanced cases of gum disease, they might also be bleeding and painful when touched. A simple test for healthy dog gums is to press down on their gums with your finger for a few seconds. The pressure will cause the spot to go white or pale pink but, if your dog’s mouth is healthy, once you lift your finger, they should return to salmon pink in about two seconds.
Why is poor oral health bad for my dog?
Poor dental hygiene can cause dental diseases such as gingivitis (gum disease), periodontal diseases (gum and bone infection), tooth fractures, tooth root abscesses and infection. If their gums look painful, it’s because they are. If you want to save your fur baby from a lot of pain and discomfort, you’ll need to help them get rid of the bacteria accumulating on their teeth.
7 tips on how to keep your dog's teeth and gums healthy
So how do you clean your dog’s teeth and protect their gums? Whether you are getting ready to welcome a new pup or have realised your dog needs more attention in the oral health department, here are a few useful and simple tips:
- Start early
Puppies are adorable little people pleasers and will do whatever you tell them, at least if you use the right reinforcement. Learn how to clean your dog’s teeth properly and spend time each day going through a healthy oral routine with your puppy.
- Brush their teeth daily
If you think about how often we brush our own teeth, it is only logical that you should brush your dog’s teeth daily too. Of course, you can miss a day every now and then, but doing it regularly establishes a routine that makes the process easier. If you want to find out how to brush a dog’s teeth that hates having them brushed, then the advice we have for you is to keep at it, take it slow and make it fun. Start by getting your dog used to you touching their face, opening their mouth and feeling their teeth and gums. Let them discover and play with a dog toothbrush and, when you think they are ready, make sure to use dog toothpaste and reward good behaviour with a tasty treat afterwards.
- Feed them natural treats
Delicious and all-natural chew treats can help keep your dog’s teeth clean without brushing. The key is to keep them natural, otherwise they will have the opposite affect and actually create decay. Frontier Pets chicken necks are a great treat as they are crunchy and natural.
- Introduce them to dental chew toys
Another way to make your fur baby happy while keeping them healthy is to give them chew toys! Designated to stimulate their intellect and keep them active, these soft toys can also help with teeth cleaning. While your pooch plays with them, they will become sticky with saliva, attracting plaque and tartar off your dog’s teeth.
- Treat them to a raw bone
If you are looking for the best dog food for healthy teeth, raw bones are great. In fact, here lies the misunderstanding many dog owners have — dogs shouldn’t need their teeth cleaned and can do so themselves. Dogs can, indeed, take care of their own dental hygiene if they are fed the equivalent of their natural evolutionary diet. Such diets are called BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food) and include, as the name indicates, raw bones. Feed your dog a raw bone every few days to naturally remove the build-up of plaque and tartar and keep your dog’s gums healthy.
Just make sure to supervise them while they are gnawing at it and take the bone away after they have reduced it to a size that is smaller than their mouth (as it can pose a choking hazard).
- Get their teeth professionally cleaned
You should get your dogs teeth cleaned by a vet once per year regardless of what else you do. Tartar and plaque naturally develop in hard to reach spots and can go unnoticed until it’s too late. Your veterinarian will be able to remove it and keep your dog’s mouth in optimal health.
- Kibble does NOT clean teeth
Some people believe that kibble will keep your dogs teeth clean because it is hard and crunchy. This is not true. There is emerging evidence many dry foods, in fact, contribute to plaque and poor oral hygiene. Instead, you should feed your pooch raw food, which is rich in enzymes that help with food decay and limit the amount of time food residues can remain stuck between their teeth.
Healthy and nutritious dog food for healthy teeth and animal welfare
If you are looking for a natural and balanced diet for your dog, Frontier Pets’ dog food is the perfect choice. Formulated to provide your fur baby with all the nutrients they need and nothing else, our range of freeze-dried products is free-range and ethically made. Declutter your dog’s diet with real raw ingredients today and follow good dental health care practices to keep their tail wagging for longer.