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Your Dog’s Dental Health: What to Know and What You Can Skip

Your dog’s dental health is an extremely important part of their overall health. A bad tooth can dramatically affect your dog’s eating habits and can cause infection. But how much attention do you really need to pay to your dog’s teeth and what can be left up to nature?

To Brush or Not to Brush?
The general consensus amongst veterinarians is that you should brush your dog’s teeth regularly, however, there doesn’t seem to be much agreement on what “regularly” means. While some say everyday (which seems excessive) others say once every couple of weeks. That being said, if you’re brushing your dog’s teeth at all then you’re probably ahead of the curve where most dog owners are concerned.

What do you use, you might ask? A wooden toothbrush with soft bristles is typically recommended. Wanna skip the expensive pet toothpaste? Go ahead. You can use natural methods such as coconut oil. Even just plain water will remove some grit.

Bones and Other Chews
One of the most effective methods for keeping your dog’s teeth clean and their jaw strong is to regularly prove them with various items to chew. Antlers, cow hooves, and items such as “Greenies” provide your animal with a nice treat, entertainment, and a good dental workout.

Items to keep out of your dog’s mouth? Ice, rocks, sticks, and small bones that can be swallowed are big no-nos.

Dental Check-ups
If you take your animal to the vet once or twice a year, your vet will most likely perform a dental exam. If, for some reason, they don’t—ask them to do so! It can’t hurt. Just like humans, it’s not a bad idea for dogs to have their teeth checked and cleaned bi-annually or annually, however, if you’re brushing your dog’s teeth and providing them with good chews, a regular cleaning may not be necessary.

Food and Dental Health
There are several dog food brands on the market claiming to help with your dog’s dental health. Do your research before you buy into what may be a marketing ploy to get your hard earned bucks. Also, talk with your vet. What do they recommend? Then do your research again. In the world of dog food (much like people food) it can be difficult to know what is truly good and nutritious for your animal, however, one general consensus amongst vets and dog-lovers alike is that corn ( the “filler” ingredient found in most commercial dog food) is generally terrible for your dog. So for their dental and overall health, consider brands that are all-natural, corn free, and meat-based.

Don’t Stress Over Your Dog’s Teeth
While your dog’s dental health is important, don’t feel guilty or freak out simply because you’ve never brushed their teeth or they’ve never had a check-up. Chances are, their teeth are perfectly fine and dandy. As your dog ages, you may need to pay more attention to their health in general, so perhaps consider starting new habits now.