Should you brush your dog’s teeth every day? Or for that matter, should you even brush them at all? Far too many pet owners don’t realize how important dental hygiene is for their dogs, brushing needs to happen on a regular basis to avoid some significant canine health problems.
So does this mean sitting down and brushing your dog’s teeth? Yes, it does. It’s time to invest in a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste and learn the basics of why, how, and how often to brush your dog’s teeth. We’ve also included some additional tips for keeping your dog’s teeth even cleaner.
Dog teeth cleaning: Why brush
There are two main reasons to brush your dog’s teeth. One is to prevent tooth decay, and the other is to prevent gum disease. And of course, there’s always the added benefit of fresh breath, something not to be underestimated.
Veterinarian Fiona Caldwell from Idaho Veterinary Hospital recommends brushing your dog’s teeth every day and should time or circumstances did not allow for it, to brush them at least three times a week, even weekly if that’s the best you can do. Any brushing is better than not brushing at all.
Dog teeth cleaning: Dental problems
Dogs are subject to many of the same dental problems humans experience. If you don’t brush your dog’s teeth, he or she can get cavities, tooth decay, and develop gum disease.
Gum disease is so common that the American Kennel Club reported findings from the American Veterinary Dental College revealing that most dogs show early signs of it by the time they’re three years old.
Some signs of periodontal or gum disease in dogs are bleeding gums, drooling, difficulty chewing, gum recession, bad breath, loose teeth, and pawing at the mouth. If left untreated, your dog could suffer from infections that will shorten his or her life.
In addition to at-home brushing, professional dental cleanings are recommended every six months to a year. The vet will put your dog under using an anesthetic to properly clean and evaluate your dog’s mouth health. While some dog owners may be reluctant to anesthesia, the benefits outweigh the risks according to Dr. Geoffrey Truchetti.
Dog teeth cleaning: Tools and supplies
Brushing a dog’s teeth is just like brushing human teeth. All you need is a toothbrush and some toothpaste. However, dogs need a specially angled toothbrush that’s been specifically designed for their mouths, so don’t just use a spare out of your own stash of extra toothbrushes.
Dogs also need special toothpaste. They will be exposed to chemicals that hurt their stomachs when using toothpaste designed for humans.
Dog teeth cleaning: Get your dog to relax
Some dogs are more receptive to having their teeth brushed than others, but with the right amount of patience and training dental hygiene can be introduced into the daily routine of any dog. Schedule a few practice sessions that introduce different parts of the process to help eliminate any fear or nervous energy that might affect your dog at first.
Once they’re used to having their gums and teeth touched, you can introduce the toothbrush using a 45-degree angle in a circular motion. If you notice a small amount of bleeding in the gums, don’t worry. That’s normal. If there is excessive bleeding, it’s time to take your dog to the vet to get them checked for periodontal disease.
Dog teeth cleaning: Other tips and tricks
One way to keep your dog’s mouth healthy is to choose toys and treats that help clean plaque off his or her teeth. These range from dental bones to toys that have the right texture to strengthen canine teeth.
You also can use a flavored toothpaste if it makes your dog more enthusiastic about brushing.
If it doesn’t feel like a chore you’re both dreading, it’s more likely to happen more often. Finding a flavor your dog likes should make it much easier to brush him or her on a daily basis.
Don’t give your dog human food. Food made especially for dogs contains all the nutrients they need with no sugars or other ingredients that promote tooth decay. If you do give your dog table scraps, it’s even more important to brush regularly.
Taking care of your dog’s dental hygiene does a lot more than just freshen their breath. It prevents a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering and even adds years to your dog’s life.
Sure, it may take some time and patience to work daily brushing into your routine, but those two minutes a day will do you and your pet a world of good.
Just think of the potential vet bills you won’t have to deal with! Once you and your dog have adjusted to your new brushing routine, you’ll see that it’s even easier than taking care of your teeth. After all, dogs don’t need to floss.
– Chris Barry