We all know that caring for a dog’s teeth is important. However, did you know that at different stages of their life, your dog requires different types of dental care?
Puppies have sensitive and vulnerable teeth. For this reason, their teeth should be treated with care. Their young teeth may also not yet be strong enough to deal with some dental treatments. Equally, adult dogs’ teeth are not as fragile and therefore can withstand other forms of care. Dental care is particularly important here, because unlike puppies their set of teeth has to last for the rest of their life. Older dogs tend to be at a higher risk of dental conditions because their teeth are often more fragile, and they have worn down over time.
Read on to discover the different stages of dental care.
Taking care of a puppy’s teeth can be difficult. Their mouths and teeth are constantly growing and going through changes, which makes keeping track of their dental health important.
By the age of 3-4 weeks your pup should have started to grow their first set of teeth. Just like people, dogs grow a set of milk teeth before their adult teeth come through. Once they have come through it tends to take around another 3-4 months before they fall out and adult teeth begin to take their place. Whilst milk teeth aren’t permanent it is still important to look after them.
Following the below tips should help keep your puppy’s teeth healthy throughout their first year:
Check teeth regularly – Since your puppy’s teeth are constantly changing it’s important that you check them out at least once a week. This will allow you to identify if there are any early signs of a condition developing in your dog’s mouth.
Provide your puppy with toys – It’s important to make sure your dog has chew toys while they’re going through the teething process. Chew toys will not only help to keep your dog’s teeth clean, but will also soothe the pain of teething.
Make sure teeth have fallen out – After about 3-4 months your puppy’s teeth should have started to fall out. You should take your pup to the vet if your dog’s teeth haven’t started to fall out by this time.
Brush their teeth – Brushing your puppy’s teeth from a young age is really important. Not only does it help look after their teeth, but it also gets them used to the idea of brushing from a young age. We advise you start off by slowly rubbing your fingers across your puppy’s mouth. Once you have mastered this you can start to use toothpaste and eventually a toothbrush. Remember to praise and reward your dog after each session of cleaning.
Adult Dog Teeth
Once your dog reaches around 12 months of age, they begin their adult life. This means they will have a full set of teeth that need to be looked after correctly as they will not grow another set. This makes dog dental care an important part of adult life.
Cleaning your dog’s teeth – Now your dog has moved into their adult phase it’s even more important to brush their teeth. You should ideally be looking to brush your dog’s teeth every day, but even doing it twice a week will make a difference. When cleaning your dog’s teeth you should try and make sure the brush is at a 45° angle. Read more about cleaning their teeth here.
Water additives – Water additives are a relatively new invention that help to keep your dog’s mouth clean and their breath fresh. Whilst these additives are a great way to help improve a dog’s dental health, if you choose to use them they should be used in conjunction with brushing and daily chew sticks. Ask your vet for more information.
Senior Dogs’ Teeth
It’s extra important to make sure your elderly dog’s teeth and gums are healthy and strong. This is because elderly dogs are at a much higher risk of having gum conditions than younger dogs.
Caries in elderly dogs’ teeth – ‘Caries’, or holes in a tooth, can be an issue for some older dogs. This is why it’s important that you regularly check your dog’s mouth, as they can lead to pain and tooth loss.
Tooth extraction – As a dog gets older they may need to have teeth taken out. The process of tooth extraction does involve a general anaesthetic, and although usually completely safe, this can be disorientating for your elderly dog.
Next, find out more about cavities in dog's teeth, what they are and tips on how to prevent them.