Dogs with few or no teeth can adapt well to mealtime, with your help. Dogs who are all gums are pretty common -- little breeds are prone to dental problems. When regular dental care fails to save your pup's vulnerable teeth, thoughtful preparation on your part can make eating as simple and tasty as possible.
Trouble With Tiny Mouths
Vets see many small dogs with dental problems in part because of their tiny mouths. When teeth are crowded together in a smaller space, a good cleaning becomes more difficult, and plaque can progress into periodontal disease. As the gum disease gets worse, painful and infected teeth lose their anchoring and will either fall out or eventually be removed by a vet.
This is why veterinarians hammer home the importance of brushing a dog's teeth and regular cleanings under anesthesia. You may find that a finger toothbrush or a dental swipe serves you best for home dental car for a small dog. Ask your vet for a comprehensive prevention plan.
Keep a small toothless dog on the same feeding schedule as you would a pup with pearly whites. That means at least two meals a day or even more, depending on your dog's size, his activity level and any dietary issues.
To keep nutritional standards high and calories low, avoid feeding table scraps. Some mushy foods may be tempting to give a begging toothless dog, but a small dog can't afford extra pounds.
Mash It Up
Make your dog's food easy to consume and to digest. If your dog is used to eating kibble, moisten before feeding by adding warm water and letting it sit until you can easily crush the pieces with a fork. Dog food marketed for small breeds automatically comes in a form made for little mouths.
If you feed a high-quality canned diet, begin with a brand and recipe that is pate consistency or easily smashed chunks. Add a dash of warm water to your dog's portion, especially if the food is a leftover portion coming out of the refrigerator, and smash with a fork. Do not leave any large chunks that you wouldn't want your dog swallowing whole. If you find your dog is lapping up the watered-down food too quickly, dish out a little bit at a time.
Raw and Homemade Diets
More and more pet store freezers are stocked with a variety of meaty diets for owners who want to feed a quality raw diet. Advocates say commercial raw diets offer complete nutrition and natural goodness for dogs, and some varieties are easily thawed and mashed. Another raw-food option is freeze-dried patties that you can break into small portions and reconstitute with water. Ask for recommendations and samples to find a consistency and flavor your dog prefers.
You can prepare a homemade diet, which is sometimes necessary for dogs with certain allergies or sensitive stomachs. Consult your veterinarian for proper recipes before going this route. With an approved recipe and a blender, you'll finely chop nutritious ingredients that can include rice, chicken, hamburger, egg, cottage cheese, greens, barley and more. Cook all grains and starchy veggies before serving; steam or puree greens, and boil chicken or hamburger. Add any supplements your vet recommends. If you make a big batch, freeze portions in individual serving containers.
You'll be bypassing the rawhide aisle with a toothless dog. If you want your dog to still experience the meaty goodness of a nice smoky bone, ask if a tendon is available. Your pup will enjoy licking and gnawing at the tendon without the hard edges of a bone that could injure gums.
Avoid hard biscuit treats and go for options that are easy to tear up and serve in tiny tidbits, such as soft, chewy treats or freeze-dried meat treats.