5 Ways To Support Your Dog’s Dental Health

Dogs add so much love to our lives: they are a walking companion who inspires us to exercise, even on the grayest of days. Affectionate eyes, understand and forgive everything. A warm snuggle companion for cozy movie nights. And, it must be noted that in some cases, hot and smelly breath can cause paint to peel.

Committing to taking care of your dog's dental health can definitely help freshen breath, but more importantly, it's also a key factor in his overall health.

While bad breath caused by dental disease can be unpleasant, the effects of untreated dental disease extend far beyond your dog's mouth,” says Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT, a holistic veterinarian in Boulder, Colorado. Angie Krause, Ph.D. said. “Infection and inflammation below the gum line can enter the dog's bloodstream and affect major organs such as the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.”

The good news is that innate behaviors like chewing are a great way to help keep your teeth healthy at home, so dental treatment products like Stella & Chewy's Dental Delights are always a solid choice. Want to incorporate dental health into your furry friend's daily life? Here are five practical tips and habits to keep those drool-worthy kisses clean and fresh.

1. Make an effort to brush your teeth regularly

Plaque and tartar are the enemy. Dr. Krause explains that their accumulation can create disease below the gum line, which is “invisible to us but quite painful to the dog.” Ideally, brushing even every other day is better than brushing nothing at all, since it takes about 48 hours for tartar to form (just like human teeth). However, Dr. Kraus acknowledges that “most people live in an imperfect world and love their dogs,” and that there are many variables. For dogs, this may include their willingness to be handled and have their mouths touched. For humans, it can include how much time you really need to spend trying to convince others when your to-do list is stacked with other items.

To turn something that may seem like a chore into a painless habit, Dr. Krause recommends brushing your dog's teeth around the same time every day so your dog can get used to the routine. Use only canine toothpaste (human toothpaste can be toxic to dogs); you'll find these in flavors like poultry and seafood. If your dog seems stressed during this process, brush only a small portion, then take a break and give them a high-value treat. (Never let a human child catch you doing this, or they'll ask for candy every time you brush your teeth.)

2. Don’t neglect your gum exam

Knowing that your dog can't tell you when something is wrong, Dr. Kraus recommends taking a proactive approach. Check their mouth, teeth and gums weekly to monitor conditions such as inflammation and infection before they become too severe. When pets suffer from dental disease, they often suffer in silence, “continuing to eat, drink, and play with toys while enduring tooth pain, which causes us to call the dentist,” she says. Routine checkups also familiarize them with the feel of brushing so they can brush easily in the future.

3. Call for support

Let your dog have fun! Dr. Kraus notes, “Dental chews are delicious, durable, and recommended by veterinarians as the next best thing to brushing your dog’s teeth. Their cleaning power is remarkable and they can play a role in preventing serious oral health problems.

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Chicken Dental Gourmet

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Chicken Dental Gourmet

Stella & Chewy's Freeze-Dried Chicken Dental Gourmet

In fact, the very act of chewing can combat plaque and tartar buildup and freshen breath, which is why she recommends snacks like Stella & Chewy's Dental Delights. Made with all-natural freeze-dried chicken along with mint and parsley to keep things fresh in your dog's mouth, these easy-to-digest treats are designed with ridges and nuggets that can be flossed and scraped and are clinically proven to help with control Plaque and tartar. Bonus: Dr. Kraus points out that their shape causes them to spin and tumble, which serves a clever purpose. Each treat is designed to be rolled and flipped, providing extra mental stimulation for dogs and adding fun to dental hygiene,” she says. “Dogs love to chew, and they don't even realize it's a function.”

4. Look for potential threats

Many factors, including your dog's overall immune health, can affect the types of bacteria in your dog's mouth, so do your best to keep it clean!

Throw that old tennis ball away – not in a “fetch” way. Letting your dog bite his beloved furry little yellow guy could damage his teeth. “Tennis balls act like sandpaper and slowly remove enamel from your dog's teeth,” says Dr. Kraus. If your dog is a recreational chewer, give them treats designed specifically for chewing (and flossing) rather than treats designed for baseline volleying.

For your sake and that of your puppy, be careful to keep food and water bowls clean. Cleaning their bowls will help ensure they have access to fresh food and water, reducing the types of bacteria that affect dental health.

5. Consider professional cleaning

When you bring your dog in for a checkup, ask your veterinarian to perform an oral exam to screen for disease. While an esthetician may offer brushing as an add-on service, Dr. Krause warns that this is usually a cosmetic procedure that only removes tartar at the gum line.When your veterinarian cleans your dog's teeth, they will look at under Check the gum line for dental disease and use X-rays. Consider taking your dog for a more complex dental disease screening every year. Since this is a more complex procedure, this more expensive option may require your dog to undergo anesthesia, so weigh the options with your doctor to decide what's right for your puppy. That said, regular cleanings under anesthesia may prevent expensive procedures like tooth extractions.

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