Have you ever wondered, “how healthy is your dog’s mouth?” If you haven’t, then this month is the perfect time to do just that because, February is Pet Dental Health Month. As all pet parents know, our dogs are masters of disguise when it comes to keeping their pain from us. The reason they mask their pain is because it’s an instinctual behavior based on the times when dogs lived in the wild — only the strong survive.
Some pet parents will immediately notice when their dog is in pain, whether he is limping or just acting out of sorts or not eating or sleeping more than usual. When it comes to pain in your dog’s mouth, your dog may stop eating, her breath may be worse or she may carry on as usual even though she has mouth or tooth pain.
When you take your dog for his annual veterinarian visit, your vet will check your dog’s teeth and gums and your dog’s mouth. The vet will notice inflammation, discoloration of the gums and will be able to notice a tooth that is broken or looks infected. Your veterinarian may also recommend an annual dental cleaning to keep your dog’s mouth as healthy and your dog as happy as possible.
How Healthy Is Your Dog’s Mouth?
If you’re reading this article and your dog doesn’t have a veterinarian visit scheduled any time soon, here are a few things you can do today to check the visual health of your dog’s mouth.
- Gently pull his lips back and examine them and his gums. If you notice any swollen or red areas, you may want to call your veterinarian. Your dog’s gums should be pink (unless he has a mottled gumline) and you shouldn’t see any redness, swelling or discharge.
- Look at his teeth. If you notice a build up of tartar along the gum line at the top of his teeth, this could lead to gingivitis and further dental health issues. Plaque and tartar build up is another reason you will want to call your veterinarian and schedule a visit to discuss a potential dental cleaning. If you notice any redness around a particular tooth or see a broken tooth, it’s time to call your vet.
- Does your dog’s breath have a bad smell? We know that once a dog outgrows the “puppy breath” stage, their mouth can be rather stinky, but a dog with a dental issue will have even worse breath.
What can you do to keep your dog’s mouth healthy?
- Brush your dog’s teeth. Your veterinarian can show you how to best perform this task. You will want to use a dog-specific toothbrush, or a finger brush and a toothpaste that is made for dogs.
- Feed him foods that will help loosen plaque. Dry, hard foods and even crunchy vegetables like carrots can help dislodge tartar. If your dog has a build up of tartar and plaque, though even hard foods won’t remove it — he will need a dental cleaning.
- Take your dog in for a dental cleaning. Veterinarians perform dental cleanings while they are asleep so they can thoroughly clean every tooth and examine your dog. Your veterinarian will let you know how frequently your dog will require a dental cleaning and examination and what you can do between dental cleanings to keep his mouth healthy — that will include daily teeth brushing.
Our dogs bring us so much love and enhance our lives in so many ways. They look to us to keep them happy, their teeth clean and healthy and their bodies healthy as well! When is the last time you examined your dog’s teeth? Once you do, and perhaps once you brush his teeth take him for a long walk as a reward for being such a good pup!
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual. When not caring for her pets or taking them on walks, she is a speaker, efficiency and effectiveness guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof/Crimeless Cat.