Should I Brush My Dog's Teeth?

Should I Brush My Dog's Teeth?

Should I Brush My Dog's Teeth?

Actually yes. Most of us who are older would have never considered the idea of brushing our dog’s teeth. I mean, come on. Isn’t nature supposed to take care of that? The wolves don’t get their teeth brushed! Along comes the information highway and science.

Dogs are living longer, as are people, mostly due to scientists learning what works and what doesn’t.  Dogs can get Periodontal disease, just like people. This can affect your dog before he even turns 3. It can cause tooth loss and the bacteria from the disease can spread to other organs and cause them to become very sick. How to help prevent this-brushing his teeth.

 Where to Start. 

Once you have decided this might be a good idea, there are a couple of things to do.

First, I would have your vet check his teeth before you start brushing them. This is to make sure there aren’t any teeth that need attention or pulling.

Second, work on your plan of attack. Chances are if you order some nice beef flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush and think you’re going to walk up to your dog, Monday morning before you go to work and brush his teeth, you’ve lost your mind. You have to get your dog used to the idea and that takes some time. Also be forewarned some dogs just won’t ever allow you to brush their teeth and that’s ok, there are alternatives. That’s not a free pass for you to say Oh, shucks, he just won’t go for it. You have to give it a genuine try first as the best way to keep his teeth clean and health is by brushing. Ready? Here we go:

  1. Keep in mind this has to be an enjoyable experience for you both. Do not rush it. It could take a few weeks before you get there but if you remain patient and consistent, you’ll get there. Keep your eye on the prize!
  2. You’ll need a pet toothbrush (can be either a toothbrush or finger brush). You can even you a baby toothbrush or small piece of a washcloth. Pet toothpaste. Don’t use yours or baking soda, this can cause upset stomachs and you might be cleaning up an unexpected mess. They sell different flavors of toothpaste for dogs. You might need to experiment to find out what your dog likes. Last, a treat that your dog really enjoys.
  3. Start by letting your dog sniff and taste the toothpaste to see if he likes it. Have the toothbrush out so he can get used to seeing it. Let him get used to you touching his mouth. Lift his lips up and gently rub his gums and teeth with your finger. Put toothpaste on your finger and rub it on his teeth and gums. Once used to that put some toothpaste on the brush itself and let him lick it off. Remember if he doesn’t like the toothbrush try a piece of a washcloth. Once he’s used to all of that start putting the toothbrush with the paste on it in his mouth for very short periods of time. Remember you only have to brush the outer teeth, not the inside. Brush along the gum line. If you can work your way up to about 30 seconds on each side you are golden. Every day would be perfect, but every other day will benefit him as well. If your dog’s mouth starts to bleed or if he has really bad breath call your vet.

Other options:

So you’ve tried it, patiently and it’s just not happening. There are other ways to control the plaque.

  1. Dry dog food. Feeding your dog dry food can help keep your dogs gums and teeth in good condition. The Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council is on products that meet standards designed for tartar and plaque control.
  2. Dog Tooth Wipes. These are made to be rubbed on dog’s teeth to assist with removing plaque. They work like toothbrushes but don’t get between the teeth like a brush.
  3. Dental treats: There are dog treats which are made to remove the plaque that builds up and also freshen yours dogs’ mouth. Follow the directions on the box.
  4. Chewies: There are lots of different kinds of chewies. (See my chewie blog post). Chewing on these helps scrape the plaque off and some chewies contain enzymes that help promote healthy teeth. Never leave your dog alone with a chewie as they can choke. It’s happened to me several times with different kinds of chewies. It’s not a fun experience!
  5. Professional cleaning: Although expensive you should try to have this done once per year if your vet feels like it is needed. You can call your local humane society for possible resources and cheaper fees if the cost is prohibitive at a regular vets office. The reason it is so expensive is that the vet has to put your dog to sleep in order to do the cleaning

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