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Your dogs teeth are very important. Poor dental health can lead to many problems including pain when eating, smelly breath and dental infections, not to mention possible secondary complications such as bacterial endocarditis, an infection on the valves of the heart which is extremely difficult to treat.
The best way to maintain good oral health is to get your dog used to having it's mouth examined when it is a puppy. This is reasonably simple to do but a gentle approach must be used with little and often being the key. Smearing a small amount of something tasty on your finger such as meat paste or paté and then gently rubbing your finger around your puppy's mouth on the outer gums will form a positive association with having it's mouth examined.
If your dog is older and does not like having it's mouth examined, feeding a complete dry diet is a good way to help naturally clean the teeth. There are a few diets designed specifically to help clean your dog's teeth including Hills T/D which we stock.
Dental chews can also be used but it is important to remember that they are designed to be chewed to help clean the teeth, so if your dog cracks them into three pieces and swallows the bits whole, they may not be doing any good! It is also important to remember that they count as a treat and the dog's food allowance for that day should be adjusted accordingly. Finally, it is useful to note that dental chews often help to clean the large teeth at the back of the mouth but may not help with plaque on the canine and incisor teeth at the front.