Posted on Category:Articles

Canine Oral Dental Care

Small puppy lifted by a woman
Small puppy

As many of my readers are aware, I am an avid supporter of Muttville, a senior dog rescue organization operating out of San Francisco, CA. Recently, I had the opportunity to foster the cutest Yorkie named Peach. Peach is a fabulous 9 year-old Yorkie who found her way to Muttville after years of neglect. Aside from her discovered spinal disc problems, I was informed by her tending veterinarian at Ygnacio Animal Hospital that the real problem was years of neglect of dental care. In fact, dental neglect was her most pressing health issue. After many hours of surgery requiring the extraction of 22 teeth and a painful recovery, I realized that many of us may not take canine dental care seriously. To that end, I have found some useful tips and suggestions from professionals that can lead to many more enjoyable years with your beloved pet.

The good news for dogs is that they are not as prone to cavities as humans are. Unfortunately they are still able to develop problems like tartar and plaque buildup and gingivitis. Like humans, these problems lead to life-threatening infections and issues including heart, liver and kidney disease.  Why not employ the following suggestions to ensure your pet enjoys fewer trips to the veterinarian office?

How do I brush my dog’s teeth?

If you are like me, I struggle at this task and I know I am not doing a thorough job.

The best brush to use is a double-headed brush at a 45 degree angle to clean below the gum line, like those offered by Petosan. Choose a time when your dog has had a decent amount of exercise so that he is more inclined to sit for a reasonable amount of time. Start slowly and quit if he becomes agitated. You want this experience to be viewed as pleasurable. Speak soothingly and pleasantly during the brushing and do reward your dog with a treat afterward so that he will begin to look forward to this daily event. Start early, if you can, when your dog is still a puppy so that this procedure is a normal event.


Never use regular human toothpaste for your dog! Most human toothpastes include fluoride, which is extremely poisonous to dogs. This makes me wonder why we, as humans, are using this!

Choice of Dog Food

Dry food is better than soft food. I know most dogs would prefer to have only soft food if they had it their way but crunchy kibble is best. Chew Toys that are specifically designed to strengthen your dogs teeth and gums are a terrific choice combined with daily oral care. Be sure to keep an eye on your dog when they are chewing these bones. They may become sharp and harm your pet.

When should I see my veterinarian?

  • Bad breath
  • Change in eating or chewing habits
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Depression
  • Excessive drooling          
  • Discolored, broken or missing teeth
  • Red, swollen, painful or bleeding gums
  • Yellowish-brown tarter crust along the gum line
  • Bumps or growth within the mouth

Proper canine dental care can be a hassle for humans but in the long run but it may prove to be a lifesaver. It may even prevent your ‘baby’ from enduring needless days or painful recovery like my Peach!

P.S.  If you are interested in adopting Peach or another loving senior dog please do visit Muttville. It changed my life. I know it will change yours.