A commonly overlooked necessity in caring for a dog is looking after their teeth. While pet owners often don’t think to do so, dogs require regular teeth brushing, just like people. Failure to maintain good oral health for a dog can lead to more than just bad breath, but tooth loss as well.

The most common oral condition in dogs is periodontal disease, affecting about 80% of those over the age of three according to the American Veterinary Dental Society. Periodontal disease is defined as inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting tissue of the teeth. It is caused by plaque and tartar buildup on teeth and the resulting bacteria that forms on it. Of course, the consequences of periodontal disease are much more than simple plaque and tartar buildup – it leads to bad breath, bleeding and inflammation of the gums, loosening of teeth and ultimately tooth loss!

The good news is that periodontal disease can be easily avoided with a little care and foresight. Here are three tips to keep your dog’s mouth in tip top condition:

1. Start Early
A lot of dogs don’t get the oral care they need because it is difficult to brush their teeth as they don’t like the practice of doing so. Develop a good habit (reinforced by treats after a good brushing session) by starting as soon as the adult teeth come in at about 6 months of age.

2. Ensure Regular Mechanical Cleaning Action
A dog’s teeth should be brushed daily with a special canine toothbrush and dog safe toothpaste. If your dog doesn’t like having their teeth brushed, or you don’t have the time, give a dental chew that is designed for teeth cleaning… these chews are abrasive enough to clean the teeth like a brush as they are chewed.

3. Keep It Up With Easy Maintenance Solutions
Brushing a dogs teeth every single day may be a tough sell in a busy schedule. Establish a basic level of care between manual cleanings be incorporating an easy, ready to use product like a dental water additive into your dogs daily routine to keep buildup on teeth in check.

4. Provide Toys That Double As Teeth Cleaners
Be sure your dog has a variety of toys to play with that will help to clean the teeth. Rubber toys, nylon bones, elk antlers, bones and fibrous chew toys like ropes all take advantage of a dog’s natural instinct to chew and clean the teeth as they do.