The time to start taking care of your dog’s teeth is right now! There are so many different choices on the market today for canine oral care. Everything from toothbrushes and toothpaste to hundreds of different chews or bones. Not to mention all the conflicting information on care for their teeth. So how do you decide what course of action to take?
What should my dog’s teeth look like?
Until puppies are a year old their teeth should look very white and pointy. As they get older, their teeth will become less pointy and more rounded on the ends. They will also loose their bright white color and over time become naturally yellow or faded. If they ever turn very yellow, change rapidly or there is an access of plaque or tarter build up then something is wrong.
Head and teeth exercises to practice
It’s a good idea to get your pup or dog used to having their teeth poked and prodded at. Here’s a good daily practice. Relax your pup by massaging their head. Then wrap your hand around their muzzle from underneath to get them used to having their muzzle held. This might take a bit of time so there is no need to rush. Offer praise when they accept this. Next, begin gently manipulating their head from side to side. Hold their muzzle and move their head around in a relaxed way. When you’ve earned enough trust, open their mouth, place your fingers between their jaws and carefully pull them apart. Have a quick look for anything ‘out of the ordinary’. Let go and give them lots of praise. While peeking, be sure to take note of their breath and the color of their gums. These two things will be very important if your dog ever gets sick.
If you practice this exercise on a regular basis your puppy will become accustom to having their mouth handled. This is important for a few reasons. If you do ever need to clean their teeth or pull something out of their mouth, they will trust you. Also, your veterinarian will need to examine your dog’s mouth from time to time, or in an emergency. These times will go a lot more smoothly if your dog understands what’s going on.
Unhealthy teeth can lead to serious health problems. Keeping them clean is crucial. I’m a big believer in ‘giving a dog a bone’. With proper supervision, raw marrow bones are great for really scaling plaque off a dog’s teeth. It’s also what nature intended, not to mention what fun it is for a dog. But never give a dog a cooked bone. The cooking process loosens the bone and makes them splinter.
There’s also lots of assorted tooth brushes and pastes for dogs. If you go this route, I recommend you shop at a small local dog boutique. Stay away from big box store’s and chains. The boutique’s will carry the healthier alternatives.
Also, be cautious of all the marketing schemes as far as treats and gimmicks go. Most do nothing to clean teeth and are actually quite unhealthy.
Does feeding kibble help keep dog’s teeth clean?
NO! It’s a complete and total lie that kibble will help keep teeth clean. On the contrary, it will actually speed up the tarter build-up process. Kibble gets moist in their mouth and sticks to their teeth/gum line, creating plaque and tarter build-up. Feeding kibble is one of the worst things for dogs’ teeth. On the other hand, feeding raw food will keep their teeth clean and healthy!
Written by Brenda McBurnie, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Natural Nutrition