Doggy Dental Month - Doggy Brace

February is Doggy Dental Month, which means that we’re diving into canine hygiene and dog dental cleaning. Aside from the usual stuff you should be doing for your dog (like brushing his or her teeth), we included some interesting tid-bits of information that we all wonder about from time to time.

Stuff like, why does it seem like all small dogs have terrible teeth or bad breath? How can you really keep your dog’s teeth clean throughout the week? And how exactly can you avoid expensive dental cleanings with good tooth brushing? How often should you brush? You know, the usual stuff people wonder about but don’t always find answers for. 

Grab a cup of coffee and settle in, because we’ve got you covered. Happy Doggy Dental Month. 

Why Do Little Dogs Have Bad Breath?

In short, small dog breeds suffer from “bad” teeth and horrible breath because of the shape of their mouths and skulls. While vets and scientists are still trying to figure out the exact reasons smaller dogs experience more dental issues, research has chalked it up to:

  • Little space between teeth
  • Teeth rotating in the mouth
  • Short tooth roots
  • Less oral activity like eating and chewing than bigger dogs

Dogs under 10lbs also experience loss of bone density within the first year of their life, making dog dental cleanings and upkeep incredibly important for a tiny dog’s health. Another contributing factor is air flow. Consider a large Lab, who always has his mouth open, who usually is chewing on something. The air is circulating so that bacteria isn’t sitting still in the mouth, and chewing on toys wipes plaque off of molars and gums. Most small dogs, like Chihuahuas, are not big chewers. Small dogs also don’t eat a lot, which means they aren’t opening up the circulation in their mouths and getting some air flow in there. That’s where that funky breath comes from, and unless you’re brushing their teeth every day, small dogs can’t do much about the smell. 

Doggy dental health and cleanings are important for all dogs, but especially the itsy bitsy ones. With smaller dental roots, a crowded mouth of teeth, little air flow and less chewing, they are destined to have dental issues that get very real over time. 

Owner cleaning teeth of cute dog with brush on light background

How to Keep Your Dogs Teeth Clean

There are several ways to keep your dog’s mouth clean, not just the ol’ toothpaste and brush. It’s important to pursue your options when it comes to doggy dental hygiene, because your dog might like some methods more than others. Canine dental hygiene is something that needs to be integrated into your dog’s daily life, so find the way he or she enjoys (or tolerates) it best. 

  • Finger Toothbrush and Paste
    Depending on your dog and the size of their mouth, your dog could get freaked out if you try to stick a big toothbrush back there. Use a finger toothbrush instead. Your hand will be closer to their teeth for more control and your dog may find it less invasive. Make sure to use a great toothpaste made specifically for dogs.
  • Sprinkle Dental Powder on Food

Dental powder is a powder you can shake into or on top of your dog’s food. This powder prevents tartar and plaque buildup while keeping breath fresh. This isn’t a single solution to doggy dental hygiene, but acts as a great support in keeping optimum dental health.

  • Dental Water Additive

Dental water additives are awesome. There are many on the market and they all work just about the same. The additive is a tasteless solution that goes directly into your dog’s water bowl. The additive helps to break down tartar and plaque throughout the way. Like the dental powder that goes on top of your dog’s food, this is not a single solution to keeping your dog’s mouth healthy and fresh. It is simply a way to support proper brushing and a great addition to a dental hygiene routine. 

When You Need to Get Your Dog a Dental Cleaning

The amount of dental cleanings per year depends on the size of your dog. As we mentioned earlier in the blog, a dog’s dental health really depends on the size of the dog and the size of its mouth. If you have a larger dog that chews all day, eats often, hangs its mouth open — chances are he or she will only need a dental cleaning about once a year. If your dog is smaller or a toy breed, your vet might recommend cleanings every 6 months. It really depends on you, your dog, and how often you brush their teeth at home. 

Dental cleanings are expensive, especially if your dog requires a lot of anesthesia. Taking the time to brush at home will not only save you thousands of dollars (literally), but elongate your dog’s lifespan. Brushing is a great way to bond with your dog, too. Take the time to brush, spend time together, and bond with your pup.