Skip to main content

How to take care of dog dental health (and why it matters)

These are the secrets for staying on top of your dog's dental health

In a lot of ways, our pets are exactly like us. They love to play, eat food, cuddle up in bed, and hang out with their friends. And just like humans, our Fidos require medical care. Sometimes even a dog's teeth need help to stay healthy. If neglected, you might wind up having a pup with a cavity that can lead to all sorts of problems, such as pricey vet bills and mouth pain. In addition to the comfort and cost-saving benefits, taking care of dog dental health improves overall wellness.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

15 minutes

What You Need

  • Dog bones

  • Dental treats

  • Water additive

  • Pet toothbrush

  • Pet toothpaste

A dog happily shows her teeth while lying on her back and getting a belly rub
Lucian / Unsplash

Why do your dog's teeth need attention

In the wild, animals take care of their own teeth by chewing on bark, bones, and grass. At home, you need to help their mouths stay clean.

While dental problems can occur in just about any pup, certain breeds are prone to teeth issues that no amount of basic care is likely to cure. For those specific animals, regular vet dentist visits might wind up being a requirement, and you should always consult your doggy doctor before providing treatment. However, many aspects of pet oral maintenance can be easy and even fun for you and your pooch.

A dog chews on a bone while lying on the carpet
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How can I protect my dogs dental health

As with all things when it comes to your pet's health, start with the offensive approach. This means offering a few different teeth-cleaning methods to see what works and what's easiest for your family.

You can pick and choose or combine these various therapies depending on what you both enjoy and what your vet recommends. Here are the steps you should follow to maintain your animal's mouth.

Step 1: Give your dog bones.

Remember those wild creatures that keep their pearly whites good and clean? Take a note from their playbook and give your canine a dog bone. Make sure that it's raw and from a pet store — you don't want to bring home something you found on the side of the road, which may contain parasites or germs.

Step 2: Provide dental treats.

Trust us, your pet will thank you for the delicious treat. It tastes amazing (to them at least) and works to clean their teeth with a specially designed texture — plus, it can also freshen their breath (for your sake).

Step 3: Boost your pup's water.

You know how your local water source likely has fluoride added to it? You can do something similar for your pup. This product doesn't taste like anything (so your pet will think they are getting regular water), but it fights the bacteria in their mouth that can lead to plaque and decay. Just put a little in their bowl every morning and watch their oral health improve.

Step 4: Brush their teeth.

You might find that your particular furry friend feels just fine after the first three steps and can skip this one accordingly. But for all those canines that need a little extra help with their fangs, you can always brush their teeth.

It could take a few tries to get good at it and they likely won't enjoy it as much as their daily Greenie. If you find this isn't working as part of your routine, talk to your groomer about adding it to their regular bathing service.

Step 5: Get their dental cleanings.

Ideally, you'll take such good care of your pup's tooth and gum health that you never need this step. But even with proper prevention, sometimes your beastie will have to have a professional cleaning (remember in some breeds this is all but guaranteed). Your vet can walk you through this process, which may include anesthesia, x-rays, and even teeth pulling, if absolutely necessary.

By staying proactive, you'll save money on tooth extractions and cleanings. You'll also help avoid mouth pain for your animal. But if your pup does lose some teeth, don't panic. Dogs manage to get through without all their chompers just fine. You should discuss this with their vet who will likely switch your pup to a soft-food diet to prevent further pain and complications (most dogs love soft food as it's very flavorful).

Usually, a pet only requires an exam every six months to a year, but it might become more frequent if you're monitoring a particular problem in their mouth. Hopefully, you can get the preventative steps down and keep your pet's teeth in good shape for life.

Editors' Recommendations

Rebekkah Adams
Rebekkah’s been a writer and editor for more than 10 years, both in print and digital. In addition to writing about pets…
How to find the right veterinarian for your pet
Getting your pet the best medical care will improve and prolong their life
Veterinarian examining cat while little boy watches

Taking your dog or cat to the vet might cause you some anxiety, especially if you're doing so for the first time. Trust us, it makes pet ownership so much more enjoyable when you have an animal doctor that both of you like. Choosing the right veterinarian for your beloved companions may not be easy, but it's certainly worth it — you'll have a better time caring for your animals, and they will stick around longer with excellent medical attention. Here's how to choose a vet.
When should I look for a vet?

We hate to add to your checklist, but you probably want to look at vets before you even bring home a dog or cat. It can take time and lots of phone calls to different places before you figure out the right fit — meaning a practice that suits your needs and budget and has availability.

Read more
Is your cat obese? 5 ways to help them slim down
Obesity left unchecked can lead to health problems
An obese tabby cat perched on a red wooden table

World Pet Obesity Week is in the fall, so it's the purrfect chance to get your kitty on a diet to slim down in time. According to a survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), roughly 61% of cats and 59% of dogs in the U.S. alone are overweight or obese. While few things are more adorable than a chunky cat, obesity in cats comes with a multitude of health risks.

Have you been wondering if your cat needs to lose a few pounds? We're here to share how you can tell if your cat is obese, the potential health problems caused by cat obesity, and five helpful things you can do to help them lose weight. 
What causes obesity in cats?

Read more
Does your dog drink a lot of water? Here’s when you should be concerned
It's usually just the weather, but you should look for signs of dehydration or excess thirst
A pug drinking water from a sink faucet

Ensuring your furry best friend gets plenty of water is one of the most important parts of being a pet parent. But how much water should your dog drink on a daily basis? Veterinarians claim the general rule of thumb is a simple equation: The majority of dogs require around 1/2 to 1 ounce (about 1/8 of a cup) of water per pound of body weight each day. Don't want to reach for your measuring cup? Make sure your pup has round-the-clock access to clean water, and everything should be fine.

That being said, if your dog empties their water bowl several times a day, or you notice their intake has increased drastically, you should probably keep a close eye on things. If your dog drinks a lot of water, you may be wondering, "Why is my dog always thirsty?" We'll share how to monitor your pup's water intake, the most common reasons your dog may be thirsty, and when you should speak with your vet.

Read more