Here at TransPaw Gear, we obviously care a great deal about the well-being of your canine friends! We talk a lot about keeping their brains busy with great adventures, and keeping them safe and happy around the holidays, but we also realize the importance of keeping our dogs healthy so we have them around for as long as possible!
One often-overlooked element of canine health is dental care. That’s why February was declared National Pet Dental Health Month by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The month exists to raise awareness about the importance of your pets’ teeth as part of their overall health.
First of all, if you have questions about any aspect of your dog’s health, contact your veterinarian. They are your best resource for advice specific to your pet. That said, there are some guidelines that are helpful for all dog owners to know.
According to the AVMA, all of the following are potential signs of dental issues:
- Bad breath
- Discolored, broken or loose teeth
- A change in chewing habits
- An increase in drooling
- A decrease in appetite or reluctance to eat
- Pain, swelling or bleeding from the mouth
Remember that dental problems can be painful! Animals in pain sometimes appear grouchy, and they can even bite, so be careful when handling your pet’s mouth and head if you suspect dental disease.
It’s normal for pets to need dental cleanings throughout their lives. This is often done under general anesthesia, since unlike (most) humans, dogs aren’t always cooperative about staying still or keeping their mouths open. The AVMA recommends that a veterinarian examine your pet’s teeth once a year, or right away if dental disease is suspected. Because poor dental health can lead to problems elsewhere in the body, it should be addressed as soon as there are signs of an issue.
What can you do to improve your dog’s dental health between cleanings?
Get them used to accepting daily brushing. The photo above shows the highly rated and popular dog harness, the Happy Harness inventor Joan Hunter Mayer’s dog Ringo Starr having his teeth brushed. (He loves this activity!) Undertake this slowly and at the dog’s pace, similar to what you might have done when getting your dog accustomed to wearing their harness. Watch your dog’s body language for signs of discomfort as you introduce the experience of brushing. Many dogs come to love this daily time with their humans, as much as they love seeing us grab the harness and leash to head out for a walk or adventure!
Provide them safe, appropriate items to chew on. There are numerous products specifically geared toward dental health; your veterinarian will have recommendations that suit your dog! Just remember to keep an eye your dog whenever you give them a new kind of toy, to make sure they’re chewing appropriately, not choking on or swallowing parts they shouldn’t.
Remember, although February is the month dedicated to awareness about pet dental health, it’s important year-round! Taking care of every inch of your canine pal may take some extra effort, but it can pay off by adding more years of happiness, love, and adventures for your both.