Regrettably, a lot of our time is spent administering general anaesthesia to deal with dental disease in dogs. A little time spent on dental care could avoid a lot of anaesthetics, costs and illness. There are basically 4 options:
- Commercial chews
- Specially designed diets
- Food additives
Regrettably, most modern dogs are likely to have problems if given bones, primarily severe constipation and we would not advocate their use.
The key to any good dental care programme is cleaning of the tooth/gum margin and a lot of commercial chews do not last long enough to achieve any significant amount of cleaning. If they are of the tougher type such as pigs ears then they are of some use.
Tooth-brushing remains the most effective method of maintaining good dental health. This is very easy to perform and please ask in the surgery for a demonstration of how this should be done. But basically keep the mouth closed and insert the brush inside each cheek and just brush the outside of the teeth. Even cats tolerate this sometimes!
Please do not use human toothpaste as it has too much fluoride (animal toothpaste is available in surgery or in all good pet shops). But we would recommend a modern toothbrush – ideally one of the more modern brushes which are available in the surgery but a baby toothbrush can suffice as it has a small and soft head.
A specific dental diet is certainly of use but again tooth brushing remains the gold standard. Equally food additives such as ‘Plaque Off’ which is based on seaweed (which is now added to human toothpaste as it is shown to weaken plaque) are useful but again really only in addition to tooth brushing!