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Daily Dental Care Routines for Shih Tzus

by Scott Lipe
Daily Dental Care Routines for Shih Tzus

Taking care of your Shih Tzu’s dental health is crucial for preventing issues such as halitosis, tooth decay, and gum disease. Regular at-home dental care and professional cleanings are necessary for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. In this article, we will cover the importance of dental care, at-home dental cleaning techniques, and professional dental cleanings for Shih Tzus.

Shih Tzus are more prone to dental issues due to their shorter snouts, making dental care even more important for this breed. Neglecting your Shih Tzu’s dental care can lead to various dental problems, including tooth decay, gum disease, and eventually tooth loss. Plaque buildup is a significant concern, and regular dental care is essential to maintain your Shih Tzu’s oral health.

Why Dental Care is Necessary

Neglecting your Shih Tzu’s dental care can lead to various dental issues, including halitosis, tooth decay, gum disease, loose or weakened teeth, and eventual tooth loss. Plaque is the main culprit behind these problems, as it turns into tartar within a few days and becomes difficult to remove. Shih Tzus, being a brachycephalic breed, are more susceptible to dental problems due to overcrowding of teeth and hard-to-reach areas. Regular dental care is essential to prevent dental issues and maintain your Shih Tzu’s dental health.

“Proper dental care is essential for Shih Tzus to avoid dental problems such as tooth decay and loss. Neglecting their dental health can lead to serious consequences.”

  1. The buildup of plaque and tartar: Shih Tzus are prone to plaque and tartar buildup due to their shorter snouts, which make it harder for them to clean their teeth naturally. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, easily accumulates on the teeth and gums, leading to gum disease and tooth decay.
  2. Tooth decay and loss: If left untreated, the plaque and tartar buildup can cause cavities, tooth decay, and ultimately, tooth loss. Advanced dental problems can also result in pain, difficulty eating, and overall discomfort for your Shih Tzu.
  3. Gum disease: Poor dental care can lead to gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. This condition affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth, leading to inflammation, redness, bleeding, and even tooth mobility.


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To ensure your Shih Tzu’s oral health, regular dental care is necessary. This includes a combination of at-home dental cleaning techniques and professional dental cleanings.

Table: Dental Problems Associated with Neglected Dental Care in Shih Tzus

Dental Problems Description
Halitosis Bad breath caused by bacterial buildup in the mouth.
Tooth decay The gradual destruction of the tooth’s outer layer due to plaque and bacteria.
Gum disease An infection of the gums caused by bacteria, leading to inflammation, bleeding, and tooth mobility.
Tooth loss The result of untreated dental issues, leading to the removal of one or more teeth.

Regular dental care, including daily at-home dental cleaning and professional cleanings, is crucial for maintaining your Shih Tzu’s dental health and preventing these dental problems.

At-home Dental Cleaning Versus Professional Cleanings

Shih Tzu dental cleaning

When it comes to maintaining your Shih Tzu’s dental health, both at-home dental care and professional cleanings play important roles. At-home dental care involves regular brushing of your dog’s teeth to remove plaque and maintain oral hygiene. This can be done using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste, ideally on a daily basis. However, professional dental cleanings, also known as “full dentals,” are typically recommended every 1 to 3 years and are performed by veterinarians.

During a professional dental cleaning, various procedures are carried out to ensure a thorough cleaning and examination. This includes x-rays to check for dental decay, teeth scraping to remove tartar, and a comprehensive examination and treatment of any existing dental issues. Professional cleanings provide a more in-depth cleaning and can address any underlying dental problems that may go unnoticed during at-home care.

It is important to note that at-home dental care and professional cleanings complement each other for optimal dental health. Regular brushing at home helps prevent plaque buildup and maintain good oral hygiene between professional cleanings. On the other hand, professional cleanings provide a deep cleaning and allow for the detection and treatment of any dental issues that may arise. By combining both approaches, you can ensure that your Shih Tzu’s dental health is properly maintained and any potential problems are addressed in a timely manner.

At-home Dental Care for Shih Tzus

Shih Tzu teeth brushing

Proper at-home dental care plays a vital role in maintaining your Shih Tzu’s oral health. Here are some key practices to ensure your furry friend’s teeth stay clean and healthy.

1. Teeth Brushing:

The most effective way to prevent plaque buildup is through regular teeth brushing. Start brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth as early as possible to establish a routine. Use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste, and brush their teeth gently in circular motions. Aim to brush their teeth at least once a day to remove plaque and prevent tartar formation.

2. Dental Sprays and Water Additives:

If your Shih Tzu is not fond of teeth brushing, dental sprays and water additives can be helpful alternatives. These products contain ingredients that can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup while freshening their breath. Simply follow the instructions provided on the product for proper usage.

3. Dental Chews:

Dental chews are not only a tasty treat for your Shih Tzu but also provide dental benefits. Chewing on these specially designed treats can help remove plaque and tartar from their teeth. Look for dental chews that are appropriate for their size and designed to promote oral health. Regular chewing can help strengthen their teeth and keep their gums healthy.

Remember, while at-home dental care is essential, it should be complemented with regular professional dental cleanings for optimal oral health. Now that you are aware of these at-home dental care practices, let’s explore what professional “full dentals” entail.

At-home Dental Care Tips Benefits
Brushing their teeth daily Prevents plaque buildup and maintains oral hygiene
Using dental sprays and water additives Reduces plaque and tartar formation, freshens breath
Providing dental chews Helps remove plaque and strengthen teeth

What Professional ‘Full Dentals’ Entail

Shih Tzu professional dental cleanings

Professional dental cleanings play a crucial role in maintaining your Shih Tzu’s oral health. These “full dentals” go beyond regular at-home dental care to ensure a thorough examination and treatment. Let’s explore what professional dental cleanings for Shih Tzus entail:

X-rays and Visual Inspection

During a professional dental cleaning, your veterinarian will take x-rays of your Shih Tzu’s teeth to assess any underlying dental issues or decay. This helps identify problems that may not be visible on the surface. A visual inspection of the teeth and gums will also be conducted to spot signs of disease or other abnormalities.

Teeth Cleaning and Plaque Removal

One of the primary goals of a professional dental cleaning is to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your Shih Tzu’s teeth. An ultrasonic scaler is used to gently scrape off the hardened tartar. This process is essential for preventing tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems.

Polishing and Plaque-Guard Treatment

After the teeth cleaning, the veterinarian will polish your Shih Tzu’s teeth to remove any remaining plaque and smooth the tooth surfaces. This helps prevent future plaque buildup. In some cases, a plaque-guard treatment may be applied to further protect your dog’s teeth and gums.

Professional dental cleanings typically require sedation to ensure your Shih Tzu’s comfort and safety during the procedure. It’s essential to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations regarding the frequency of these cleanings, usually every 1 to 3 years, to maintain optimal dental health for your beloved Shih Tzu.

Benefits of Professional Dental Cleanings for Shih Tzus
  • Early detection of dental issues
  • Thorough plaque and tartar removal
  • Prevention of tooth decay and gum disease
  • Improved overall dental health
  • Enhanced breath freshness

How Often to Brush the Teeth

Maintaining a regular teeth brushing routine is crucial for your Shih Tzu’s dental health. The recommended frequency for brushing your dog’s teeth is once a day. This ensures that plaque and tartar buildup is kept under control, reducing the risk of dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease. Establishing a daily brushing routine early on is key to ensuring that your Shih Tzu becomes accustomed to the process and cooperates during the brushing sessions.

To start a successful teeth brushing routine, find a quiet and comfortable location for the brushing sessions. Use a dog-specific toothbrush with soft bristles that is properly sized for your Shih Tzu’s mouth. It’s important to use toothpaste specifically made for dogs, as human toothpaste can be harmful to them. Non-foaming toothpaste is recommended, as it is safe for dogs to swallow. Spend approximately three minutes gently brushing your dog’s teeth and gums, using small circular motions. Being consistent with the brushing routine will help make the process easier and more effective.

Remember, regular teeth brushing is an integral part of your Shih Tzu’s dental care routine and should be complemented by professional dental cleanings. By brushing your dog’s teeth daily, you are taking an important step towards maintaining their dental health and overall well-being.

Summary:

  • Brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth once a day to maintain optimal dental health.
  • Establish a daily brushing routine early on to ensure cooperation from your dog.
  • Use a dog-specific toothbrush with soft bristles and properly sized for your Shih Tzu’s mouth.
  • Choose non-foaming toothpaste that is safe for dogs to swallow.
  • Brush gently for approximately three minutes, focusing on both teeth and gums.

Choosing the Best Toothbrush or Dental Tool

When it comes to maintaining your Shih Tzu’s dental health, choosing the right toothbrush or dental tool is crucial. The right tool will ensure effective cleaning without causing discomfort to your furry friend. Here are some options to consider:

1. Toothbrushes

Look for a toothbrush specifically designed for dogs, as their bristles and size are tailored to their dental needs. A toothbrush with soft bristles is ideal to prevent any irritation or damage to your Shih Tzu’s gums. Some toothbrushes are specifically designed for toy breeds, ensuring a perfect fit for their small mouths. Consider using a toothbrush that has an angled head for better access to hard-to-reach areas.

2. Finger Brushes

If your Shih Tzu is not comfortable with a handled toothbrush, a finger brush can be a great alternative. A finger brush fits over your finger and allows you to brush your dog’s teeth with ease. This option is especially useful for dogs who are new to tooth brushing or have sensitive gums.

3. Dental Wipes

Dental wipes can be used in addition to tooth brushing or as an alternative for dogs who have difficulty tolerating a toothbrush or finger brush. These wipes are designed to remove plaque and freshen your dog’s breath. Simply wrap the wipe around your finger and gently rub your Shih Tzu’s teeth and gums.

Table: Comparison of Toothbrushes and Dental Tools

Toothbrush/Dental Tool Description
Toothbrush A toothbrush specifically designed for dogs, with soft bristles and a comfortable size for small mouths.
Finger Brush A brush that fits over your finger, allowing for better control and gentle brushing.
Dental Wipes Wipes designed to remove plaque and freshen breath, perfect for dogs who struggle with traditional brushing methods.

Remember to choose a toothbrush or dental tool that is comfortable for both you and your Shih Tzu. The right tool, combined with regular brushing, will help maintain your dog’s dental health and keep their smile shining bright.

The Best Toothpaste for a Shih Tzu

Choosing the right toothpaste is essential for maintaining your Shih Tzu’s dental health. When it comes to toothpaste for dogs, it’s important to avoid using human toothpaste, as it can contain harmful ingredients like fluoride. Instead, opt for toothpaste specifically formulated for canines. Canine toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors that are appealing to dogs, such as peanut butter and beef.

When selecting a canine toothpaste, look for one that has mild abrasive properties to help remove plaque and tartar buildup. Stain-removing qualities are also beneficial for maintaining your Shih Tzu’s pearly whites. Additionally, choose a toothpaste flavor that your dog enjoys to make the brushing experience more pleasant for both of you.

It’s important to note that canine toothpaste should be non-foaming and safe to swallow. Unlike human toothpaste, which requires rinsing and spitting, canine toothpaste is designed to be ingested by your Shih Tzu. This is particularly important as dogs don’t have the ability to spit out the foam generated by human toothpaste.

Key Features of the Best Shih Tzu Toothpaste:

  • Mild abrasive properties for effective plaque and tartar removal
  • Stain-removing qualities for maintaining white teeth
  • Pleasant flavor to make brushing more enjoyable
  • Non-foaming formula that is safe to swallow

By using the right toothpaste and following a consistent dental care routine, you can help ensure your Shih Tzu maintains good oral hygiene and overall dental health.

Brand Flavor Features
Petrodex Enzymatic Toothpaste Poultry Mild abrasive, enzymatic action
Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste Poultry Mild abrasive, enzymatic action
Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Toothpaste Denta-C Mild abrasive, tartar control

Are There Other Ways to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth?

If your Shih Tzu resists tooth brushing, there are alternative ways to maintain their dental health. While regular brushing is the gold standard for dental care, there are other options that can supplement the effects of brushing.

Dental chews: Specially formulated dental chews can help promote dental health by reducing plaque and tartar buildup. These chews are designed to be chewed for a longer period, allowing them to scrape away plaque and massage the gums.

Dental solutions: Dental solutions can be added to your dog’s water bowl to provide an additional level of oral hygiene. These solutions often contain enzymes that help break down plaque and reduce the risk of gum disease.

Oral health supplements: There are also oral health supplements available that can support your Shih Tzu’s dental health. These supplements typically contain ingredients like probiotics, enzymes, and antioxidants that help maintain a healthy mouth.

While these alternatives can be beneficial, it’s important to note that they should be used as supplements and not replacements for regular brushing. Regular professional dental cleanings are still necessary to ensure optimal dental health for your Shih Tzu. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best dental care routine for your furry friend.

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