3 expert tips to manage your puppy's dental health


(BPT) - Every new puppy owner has a camera roll full of pictures, but don't let that sweet puppy smile fool you — good dental health requires a plan.

By the age of three years, most dogs will have some sort of periodontal disease, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. When left untreated, periodontal disease can cause pain, infection, inflammation and other health problems for your best friend.

It’s important to ensure you have the necessary tools to keep your puppy happy and healthy. Don’t know where to start? Check out these three expert tips from veterinarian and puppy expert Dr. Callie Harris.

1. Establish a brushing schedule early on

Just like you, your dog needs their teeth brushed. Since they can’t do it on their own, it’s up to you to brush for them.

“Brushing your puppy’s teeth early on not only keeps them healthy but also supports a strong bond between pet and pet parent,” says Harris.

It’s important to establish teeth brushing as part of your puppy’s routine early on. Using flavored dog toothpaste (never human toothpaste!) and a soft-bristled toothbrush or a finger brush can help ease the process.

You may not be able to do a full toothbrushing session at first, but you can start by brushing your puppy’s teeth for a few seconds every day and work them up to a full session. Beginning a toothbrushing routine may also help reduce stress for potential future teeth cleanings at the vet. Remember to praise and reward them during and after brushing.

2. Offer chew toys or tasty dental chews

Around the time you take your puppy home — usually 12-16 weeks — they’ll be teething. As they lose their baby teeth and their adult teeth come in, they’ll follow their instincts to chew. While this instinct keeps their teeth clean, it could lead to your dog chewing on household items.

You can get ahead of negative chewing behavior by offering your puppy chew toys that are appropriate in size and don't pose a choking hazard. Rubber dog toys with ridges or nubs are a great option for your pup, as they help remove plaque during chewing.

Dental chews are another great way to invest in your puppy’s oral health while providing a tasty treat. When choosing a chew for your four-legged friend, consider an option like Purina DentaLife Puppy Teething Chews.

“DentaLife Puppy Teething Chews can help establish a healthy dental routine by supporting a puppy’s natural drive to chew and their mental engagement,” said Harris. “The chews safely redirect chewing behavior during peak teething age, around 3+ months old, when puppies’ adult teeth emerge.”

DentaLife Puppy Teething Chews are a great tool for puppy parents to support their new pet through the teething stage and build up healthy dental habits. Designed and formulated by Purina animal care experts, they also contain DHA, EPA and calcium to support your puppy’s developing brain, teeth and bones.

3. Schedule professional dental cleaning

As your puppy grows and develops, it’s important to explore when your pup should get their first professional dental cleaning, as recommendations vary across breeds. During a cleaning, your vet can examine your pup’s teeth and gums for disease and remove hardened tartar. They’ll also be able to help you address any issues they find so you can keep your best friend happy and healthy for years to come.

Remember, establishing good dental habits as a puppy can set them up for dental success down the road. Using these three expert tips, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your puppy’s smile healthy and bright.