Do's and Don'ts of Dog Dental Care

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There has never been a better time than now to think about what may be causing harm to your dog’s teeth! There are many things to consider: The best dog food to pick for dental up keep, how to brush your pup’s teeth, what treats are okay and what treats are bad…the list goes on and on. The following tips can walk you through all these dog teeth care issues.

Do: Buy the Right Dog Food

For many people, the decision between what type of dog food to get comes down to dry vs. wet. In regards to dog dental care, however, the general consensus is that dry dog food might be the way to go .

Dry dog food (or kibble) comes with a unique set of dental benefits that some pet owners might not even be aware of. Whenever canines chomp down on crunchy kibble, it actually helps to remove tartar and plaque. This sort of chomping plays a crucial role in cleaning teeth. Unfortunately, however, many dry dog foods are manufactured with low-quality proteins, non-nutritive fillers and questionable meat by-products. That makes it very important to keep a lookout for dry dog foods manufactured by trusted brands using only high-quality ingredients.

Wet dog food, on the other hand, can lack the cleansing crunch of kibble. As a result, it might not provide the same breadth of dental care. Also, wet food may  stick to your dog’s teeth and cause decay over time. However, it can still be a solid alternative for picky eaters and dogs who have already developed significant dental issues. It can also be relatively harmless (and always well-received) when used as an occasional treat.

So, for every day dog dental care, try this: Do feed your dog high quality dry food, using wet as an occasional treat. In the case of older dogs with existing dental issues, however, wet food can be the best dog food to go with if you wish to minimize the chances of additional damage.

Do: Use Dental-Friendly Pet Treats

Oral care-focused dog treats can be a good idea for those pet parents who are convinced their pup just wont sit still to brush their teeth. 

Do: Monitor for Signs of Dental Damage

Canine teeth can get damaged in all sorts of ways. Abscesses, chipping and various other problems can lead to serious complications down the road if they’re not addressed quickly. 

If you’re unsure of whether or not to schedule a dental check-up, here are some big indicators you may want to consider it:

  • Your dog is only chewing on one side of its mouth.
  • Your dog is avoiding chewing unless it’s absolutely necessary (i.e. lost interest in its chew toys, bones, etc.).
  • Your dog has characteristically bad breath.
  • Your dog is displaying incessant nasal discharge and/or sneezing.
  • Your dog has developed pronounced swelling around its eye.
  • Your dog’s jaw has mysteriously become swollen or enlarged.
  • Your dog is pulling away when you touch it around its mouth, as if in pain or fear of pain (however, you should never be overly reliant on this as an indicator that your dog is suffering, as canines have evolved to hide signs of chronic pain).
  • Your dog is scratching its face a lot more than usual.

When performing routine check-ups on your dog’s teeth, be on the look out for some dental red flags like broken or loose teeth, bleeding, swelling, and plaque and tartar buildup (even a small amount can mask serious underlying problems).

If you spot any of these issues, your best option is to take your dog to see your vet so he or she can determine the cause. Then, you can be certain that it’s being treated correctly.

Definite Dental Care Don’ts

So far, a lot of dos have been addressed, but not nearly as many don’ts. Here are a few of those for you to keep in mind:

  • Never use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. The fluoride contained in these toothpastes is toxic to dogs, and is more harmful to dogs than humans since dogs swallow. Instead, find a toothpaste that has been specially formulated for dogs, like one of the ones listed below.
  • Never use human food as your dog’s primary source of nutrients. Most pet owners know that the occasional bit of peanut butter or leftover chicken (without bones in it, of course) make for great, harmless treats that dogs go crazy over. Still, they should never be used as your dog’s main meal items.
  • Stick with high-quality dry dog food to ensure that your pup’s getting all of its nutritional requirements, especially in regards to its teeth. 

 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.