Chihuahua Dental Care and Oral Hygiene
Chihuahuas are significantly healthy dogs if you compare them to any other breed. However, just like all small dogs, they tend to develop pretty specific health issues, and dental problems are among the top ones.
There are several reasons why different kinds of oral issues are so common among Chihuahuas:
- The physiology of their scull and small size practically forces their teeth on each other. Despite the fact that their jaws are so tiny, they still have somehow to contain 42 teeth like any other dog’s jaw
- The common problem of all small dogs is… their owners. We tend to spoil our tiny furry friends too often, offering them foods and treats that may be pretty controversial to natural dog’s oral hygiene
- Due to the small size of Chihuahuas, many owners fail to notice the development of oral issues before they grow into serious conditions.
To understand how severe the problem may be, imagine that statistically, 3 out of 4 Chihuahuas will develop some kind of dental or oral problem throughout their life. Yes, those are 75%!
In this article, we shall discuss where Chihuahua's dental problems come from and how to identify and treat them properly and on time, so your pet’s bad breath would not grow into painful gum inflammations or teeth loss in a matter of several weeks.
Chihuahua's Dental Hygiene.
Although Chihuahuas are incredibly smart, independent, and sassy dogs, they still can’t brush their own teeth. Some might say that in nature, nobody brushes wolf’s or fox’s teeth, and they do perfectly fine. But in wild nature, animals are not exposed to so many hazardous factors as we do in our homes. Chlorine and other chemicals in water, add-ons in food, sugar, and many other elements can seriously damage a dog’s teeth and gums.
Dog’s dental care is not that much different from ours. The main idea is to get rid of the remaining food between the teeth that can turn into tartar. Small amounts of tarter here and there are precisely the reason why you Chihuahua may have that notorious “dog breath”. However, once tartar builds up without ant treatment or oral hygiene maintenance, it will inevitably lead to decay, gingivitis, tooth loss, and various forms of gum disease.
Can I Brush my Chihuahua's Teeth With a Regular Toothbrush and Toothpaste?
This is what many dog owners try to do. They simply take their old toothbrushes and toothpaste and try to brush their poor chis` teeth. After a dog develops a number of issues, gets an upset stomach, or gives them a pretty harsh fight, they usually come to the conclusion that it is unnatural to brush dogs` teeth, and there is nothing to do with bad breath or oral issues.
There are several problems with this method of oral hygiene for dogs:
- Out toothbrushes are designed for our teeth. Their size and structure may be pretty traumatic, especially for a tiny Chihuahua’s mouth. Even if you are kind enough to get your Chi a kids` toothbrush, it is still not appropriate for your pet’s tissues and physiology
- Human toothpaste is made for humans. First of all, our bodies are able to process and take out chemicals that get into our bodies with toothpaste. Dog’s are naturally not supposed to have defensive mechanisms from fluoride and some other common toothpaste ingredients. Also, dogs don’t have a spitting mechanism. In other words, their mouths are designed to swallow everything that gets on their tongues. That is why most probably, your Chihuahua will simply eat all the toothpaste you put into his or her tongue. Then you will have to deal with a pretty heavy case of an upset stomach
- Dogs have different taste buds. They feel flavors much sharper than humans. So, if your mint toothpaste is pretty strong for you, imagine that it burns 100 times more inside your Chi’s mouth.
That is why brushing Chihuahua’s teeth with human methods is not just a bad but a pretty dangerous idea that can lead to poisoning, digestive disorders, trauma, and behavioral issues.
Our shop offers numerous oral hygiene products, including brushes designed especially for small dogs` mouths. Your vet can also recommend you an appropriate hypo allergic and non-toxic toothpaste that will help you clean your Chi’s teeth properly and provide your dog’s thorough oral hygiene.
How to Properly Clean my Chihuahua's Teeth?
You might have already understood that a dog’s dental hygiene is different from ours. First of all, there is no need to clean your Chi’s teeth twice a day, use floss, or any other additional products. Dogs do have mechanisms that clean their mouths naturally, and therefore, once or twice a week is a perfect tooth cleaning schedule for an average Chihuahua.
Here is how the procedure should look like step-by-step:
- Assume the position – make sure that your Chihuahua is calm and relaxed. Sit comfortably and put your dog on your lap. If your Chi seems nervous, don’t impose the procedure. Take time to familiarize your dog with the toothbrush, let your pet relax, sniff, and study it thoroughly. Only after you see that your Chi is calm and demonstrates healthy curiosity towards the brush, you may continue with the procedure
- Mouth wide open – it might be the most challenging part. You need to make your dog open his or her mouth without breaking the trust or causing panic that will inevitably lead to biting. To do so, put a small amount of dog toothpaste on your finger. Its flavor is most attractive for any dog, so your Chi will instantly start licking it off your finger like a treat. Once it happens, try moving your finger deeper into the dog’s mouth, along with teeth and gums. As soon as you realize that your Chi does not mind your actions and stays in a calm and relaxed state of mind, you may gently put or finger inside his or her mouth to keep it open
- The brushing – once your Chi’s mouth is wide open, start brushing his or her teeth very gently, moving the brush along the Jawline. There is no precise technique of toothbrushing for dogs. However, vets usually recommend concentrating on the big teeth as they are most prone to tartar build-up and decay
- The fun part – Just like with any training or maintenance procedure, you need to make sure that your Chi associates it with a pleasant outcome and positive reinforcement. In this case, it will be much easier for you to conduct each following brushing and turn it into a routine. Make sure that your Chihuahua knows that you are pleased with his or her calm behavior and appreciate the trust. Although the toothpaste will be pretty tasty itself, it is always good to give your dog some additional treat or physical contact that will build some pleasant associations in your pet’s mind.
How Else Can I Take Care of my Chihuahua's Teeth?
While brushing is the primary procedure to keep your Chi’s teeth and gums healthy, there are some additional steps you may take to provide thorough oral hygiene for your pet:
- Prefer solid food for your Chi. Although soft canned food may seem more attractive, it is most likely to stuck between dog’s teeth, causing decay, inflammations, and other problems
- Provide your dog with plenty of chew toys and options. You asked how wild canines take care of their teeth? They constantly chew in various sticks, animal skin, and other substances that clean their teeth mechanically. You may consider chewing toys as dental floss for your Chihuahua
- Look at your dog’s teeth closely every chance you have. As soon as you notice unusual spotting, redness, or bleeding, take your Chi to the vet.
Dental hygiene is the foundation for healthcare. Having healthy teeth, your dog can chew the food properly, which will provide healthy metabolism and a steady digestive system. It is also crucial for well-balanced behavior as there is nothing more dangerous and unstable than an animal in pain. And we all know that there is nothing worse than a toothache. Also, the whole concept of brushing your dog’s teeth is a crucial disciplinary exercise that teaches both you and Chihuahua to build up trust towards each other and work out healthy routines.