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Steve, head of NPD at Laughing Dog HQ, answers your burning dog dental hygiene questions!
Dental health is as important for dogs as it is for the owner, if the teeth are not looked after then the dog can suffer gum infections and poor teeth which could have to be removed, making it a lot harder for the dog to eat. Poor dental health can also lead to bad breath which makes it a lot more unpleasant for dog owner and dog interaction.
Yes, some foods such as wet dog food or raw diets – if fed on their own – can lead to higher levels of plaque and tartar build up on the teeth. Therefore, a balanced diet that includes either dry food, mixer or biscuit treats will help to remove the plaque build-up.
Yes, the teeth and gums can cause bad breath. However, it is possible that some odours come from the stomach very much like ourselves.
The bad breath is caused by the bad bacteria within the mouth which is typically present when you have teeth and gum disease. As part of the gum disease, dogs will typically have plaque and tartar build up, this traps food which the bacteria thrive in and it is this that gives rise to the odour.
When the dog eats food and saliva combine together and coat the teeth, this is plaque. If this plaque is left to build up then other minerals combine with this to create a hard mineral deposit which is tartar.
If your dog’s teeth are not cleaned, the plaque builds up and eventually this will turn into tartar. This hard tartar makes a perfect environment for bacteria to live in which eventually leads to gum disease and tooth decay which could mean the dog has to have some of their teeth removed.
As with a dog owner, dental disease affects dogs in very much the same way. Initially it will be bad breath making it unpleasant for the owner to interact with the dog, then as the disease becomes worse with dental decay and gum disease, the dog will start to feel pain and eventually lead to tooth loss. Dogs love chewing and rely on their teeth for this activity, therefore tooth loss seriously affects their normal behaviour and can start to impact on the type of food they can eat.
There are some really good dental treats on the market that help the dog to clean their teeth. The important thing is to ensure your dog has something to rub against their teeth to clean them off. Certain toys are good for this as is chewing on a stick but you can also help with the food that you feed your dog: mixing wet or raw food with a baked mixer will help, as would mixing in some dry food. Biscuit treats are also a great way of treating or rewarding your dog but at the same time you will be helping to keep your dog’s teeth clean. You must remember though to keep an eye on your dog’s weight and alter your dog’s food to make sure they are not over eating and putting on the pounds.
Small breed dogs are more prone to dental disease so you do need to watch out for these dogs, but there are a few of the large breed dogs such as Boxers, Great Danes and Mastiffs that also suffer.
It is always good to start cleaning your puppy’s teeth when they are young to make sure they have good dental hygiene but, more importantly, so that they get used to having their teeth cleaned as it will then make it easier for you when they are older. Start with your finger using something tasty and they’re sure to be more receptive and then build up to something more appropriate. Watch out though, puppy teeth are a little more delicate than an adult tooth so there are not as many teeth cleaning treats available for the puppy.
Yes, typically raw diets, wet diets and dry food that is made into a porridge can make plaque build-up worse, but if these are fed with a mixer or dry food then it helps keep the teeth clean. Of course, you can feed these diets and supplement during the day with teeth cleaning treats and biscuits.
For more information on dog dental health, read our article HERE!
Plus, shop our delicious dental treats HERE!