Taking Care of Your Dog’s Teeth

Most dogs should receive professional dental care by age 2 to 3 years. The frequency of dental examinations, scaling, and polishing depends on how quickly calculus forms on the dog’s teeth. A good program of home dental care will cut down on how often your dog’s teeth need to be professionally cleaned.

In fact, dental disease in dogs can be almost completely avoided by following these guidelines:

  • Feed a dry kibble diet. Dry foods are abrasive and keep the teeth clean. Feed once or twice a day rather than allowing the dog to nibble all day. If you prefer to feed canned dog food, offer some dry biscuits, such as Milk Bones, daily. Science Diet and Eukanuba offer foods that help prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar.
  • Brush the teeth and gums at least three times a week using a toothpaste made for dogs. Start the program when the dog is young and her gums are still healthy. If the dog develops periodontal disease, you will need to brush the teeth every day.
  • Avoid giving your dog objects to chew that are harder than her teeth. High-impact rubber balls and rawhide chew toys are less likely to split or break teeth than knuckle bones. Some chews are specially treated to help diminish plaque and tartar. Cheweeze and Dentabones are examples. Avoid feeding chicken bones and long bones that splinter. They provide no benefit and may cause constipation and other problems. In fact, it is best to avoid all bones.
  • Schedule annual veterinary visits for cleaning and scaling. A yearly checkup is the best prevention against dental problems.