Bringing your new puppy home is a flurry of excitement, and you can't wait to get started training them on how to enjoy a walk outside or play fetch. While giving your pet plenty of physical activity is a great way to keep them healthy, it is also essential to avoid overlooking the importance of dental care. Those little puppy teeth will quickly turn into the set that must last a lifetime, and you can ensure that your dog has strong teeth to dig into all of their favorite treats by following these steps to set up a dental hygiene routine.
Gather Your Supplies
Ideally, you should have your puppy visit the veterinarian for a full exam soon after you get them home if you are unable to do it before your adoption. During this visit, ask about the best products for doggie dental hygiene. Unlike humans, dogs lack the ability to spit out their toothpaste so you want to make sure you are using a safe one designed for canines. You can also use a special finger brush to really reach each of your dog's teeth, or you can stick to one that is more like a human’s if you are not comfortable putting your hand in your dog's mouth.
Establish the Habit Early
As with any new trick, early exposure is best for getting your dog used to having their teeth brushed. Start the first day you bring your dog home by getting them used to you gently handling their muzzle. Then, let them sniff the toothbrush and lick at the toothpaste. Slowly, you can then begin brushing their teeth in short increments while extending the time each session until you are able to brush their upper and lower jaws.
Recognize the Early Signs of Problems
As you brush your dog's teeth, you have the perfect opportunity to learn what is normal. Be alert for any changes that you notice, especially as your dog ages. For instance, discolored or bleeding gums could be signs of developing gum disease or infection. You may also notice a loose or missing tooth if your dog recently sustained an injury. Older dogs may also develop lumps or bumps in the mouth that should be assessed for cancerous changes.
Schedule Regular Exams and Cleanings
Naturally, you should always take your dog to the vet anytime you notice a change in their mouth. Yet, you can keep those emergency visits down to a minimum by taking your dog for regular exams and cleanings that can remove the tough plaque that you can't get during your at-home cleanings. Check with your dog's veterinarian for a recommended dental schedule. However, most dogs with healthy mouths need to be seen every six to twelve months. Your vet may also give their teeth a check during their annual exam to see if further treatment is needed between dental cleanings.
Give Tooth-Friendly Treats
Special treats are also available to clean your dog's teeth between meals, or you can use them for dogs who are apprehensive about toothbrushing. For instance, special rawhide treats and dental chews help remove food particles from your dog's teeth and strengthen the gums and jawbone. As always, make sure that your doggie treats are vet-approved since some can do more harm than good.
Your dog's chompers are essential for helping them eat nutritious food that nourishes their body. At Great Oaks Veterinary Hospital, we believe that caring for the whole dog is important. Reach out to us with any questions you have about your dog's oral hygiene, and enjoy getting to spend many years bonding with your pup.