Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Healthy Dogs

Select An Article
Font Size

10 Tips for Better Dental Health in Dogs

 

ASPCA logoDid you know that regularly brushing your dog’s teeth and providing her with a healthy diet and plenty of chew toys can go long way toward keeping her mouth healthy? Many pooches show signs of gum disease by the time they’re four years old because they aren’t provided with proper mouth care-and bad breath is often the first sign of a problem. Give your dog regular home checks and follow the tips below, and you’ll have a very contented pooch with a dazzling smile.

1. The Breath Test

Sniff your dog’s breath. Not a field of lilies? That’s okay-normal doggie-breath isn’t particularly fresh-smelling. However, if his breath is especially offensive and is accompanied by a loss of appetite, vomiting or excessive drinking or urinating, it’s a good idea to take your pooch to the vet.

2. Lip Service

Once a week, with your dog facing you, lift his lips and examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean, without any brownish tartar.

3. Signs of Oral Disease

The following are signs that your dog may have a problem in his mouth or gastrointestinal system and should be checked by a veterinarian:

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inflamed gums
  • Tumors in the gums
  • Cysts under the tongue
  • Loose teeth

4. The Lowdown on Tooth Decay

Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause build-up on a dog’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. One solution? Regular teeth cleanings, of course.

5. Canine Tooth-Brushing Kit

Get yourself a toothbrush made especially for canines or a clean piece of soft gauze to wrap around your finger. Ask your vet for a toothpaste made especially for canines or make a paste out of baking soda and water. Never use fluoride with dogs under six months of age-it can interfere with their enamel formation. And please do not use human toothpaste, which can irritate a dog’s stomach. Special mouthwash for dogs is also available-ask your vet.

6. Brightening the Pearly Whites

Taking these steps will make brushing a lot easier for the both of you:

  • First get your dog used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Massage her lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks. Then move on to her teeth and gums.
  • When your pooch seems comfortable being touched this way, put a little bit of dog-formulated toothpaste or a paste of baking soda and water on her lips to get her used to the taste.
  • Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for dogs-it should be smaller than a human toothbrush and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger (or a clean piece of gauze) are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your dog’s gums.
  • Finally, apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing, as in step 7.
  • A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your dog’s gums are inflamed. If your dog has mild gingivitis, brushing too hard can hurt her gums.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

boxer dog
Slideshow
dog on couch
Evaluator
 
bad dog
Slideshow
Sad dog and guacamole
Slideshow
 
Pit bull looking up
Article
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Slideshow
 
Dog scratching behind ear
Slideshow
dog catching frisbee
Slideshow
 
Dog Breed RMQ
Quiz
puppy eating
Slideshow
 
pooldle
Slideshow
puppy eating from bowl
Slideshow