Preventing Dental Disease by Dr. Danielle Bernal
Wellness Natural Pet Food Veterinarian, Dr. Danielle Bernal
When thinking of all the things a new puppy will need, most pet parents are on top of the essentials – dog bed, bowls, collars, leads, beds and crates are all purchased. They diligently research what is best to feed them, they book in their vet checks to ensure that their new pup is in the very best health and they will often sign the young pup up for training and socialising classes so they learn all their manners and a few fun tricks. There is no doubt that this new pair are off with a great start to what will be a fabulous life together, but alarmingly most pet parents are forgetting to address the number 1 health issue that will affect their young puppy as they age. Their teeth!
When a puppy is born, like us they have absolutely no teeth and in just a few short weeks a puppy’s sharp baby teeth are through before being replaced with their mature adult teeth by around 4-6 months old. Now not many puppy owners will report to seeing the baby teeth fall out, but every new puppy owner will testify to their new pup’s desire to chew everything in sight during these teething months to help ease their discomfort. Whilst the first thought at this time is to find chew toys and teething rings to save the new couch or favourite pair of shoes, the other and if not more important consideration is that now is the time to start the daily cleaning of your new pup’s teeth. Within as little as 24 hours, bacterial plaque starts to accumulate on a tooth and if not removed each day this plaque will harden to form tartar that intern progresses to gum inflammation, bad breath, loosening of the tooth attachments and severe pain. Dental disease has become such an epidemic in dogs that it now impacts 80% of adult dogs and 96% of senior dogs.
To ensure your new puppy is not going to end up with poor dental health as an adult, the very best thing a new puppy owner can do is to start cleaning their dogs teeth from 3 months of age as soon as those adult teeth start to come in. So how do you do it? Here is a quick list of tips and tricks to make daily dental time a breeze:
- Start brushing their teeth from when you first bring your new puppy home. In the first 16 weeks of a puppy’s life they are being exposed and learning so much about the world around them. Getting them used to having you open their mouth and brush their teeth at this age will ensure that they are more willing and acceptable to it as they age.
- Brushing right. There are several different brushes or finger brushes available, but the most important factor is to ensure that in time, you are able to brush all your pup’s teeth both front and back on both the inside and outside of each tooth. Start by rubbing your finger around their mouth, move to a finger brush and then in time progress to a toothbrush to help reach those back of mouth teeth. Don’t forget too that when it comes to dogs, they need their very own doggie toothpaste. This will not only taste far better to your puppy, but it is also far safer for them.
- Incorporate a way for your dog to clean his own teeth. Whilst brushing your puppy’s teeth is the gold standard technique for keeping their teeth clean, we also know it is one of the least favorite parts of owning a dog for most pet parents. In fact, only 2% of pet parents do brush their dog’s teeth each day. To help combat dental disease another easier way is often by letting the dog do all the work with a dental chew. Scientifically proven and VOHC accepted dental chews are a great way to look after their teeth each day whilst giving them a treat they love. The other important thing when it comes to puppies is to make sure that the dental chew you choose is specially tailored from 3 months of age and can be used as a puppy. This is key to make sure they are the right amount of calories but also the right texture and size to suit their young mouths.
- Make sure it is daily. Plaque can accumulate in as little as 24 hours so just like us it is important to support your puppy’s teeth with a dental chew every day to keep their teeth healthy. A chew that tastes great and comes in a daily value bag is a great way of ensuring your dog looks forward to his daily dental chew as well as be the most economical weekly solution.
- Don’t delay! A puppy grows so much in his first year that by the time he has his first birthday it is the equivalent of 15 human years! Hence just starting to clean his teeth a few months later in his life can quickly become the equivalent of starting to brush their teeth only when he is a teenager. Hence remember the 3-month puppy age as the perfect time to start looking after his teeth.