How Can I Clean my Dog’s Teeth?

Since there are only limited things that our dogs can do for themselves, it is up to us as their owners to undertake the majority of their care. This is made up of many different elements, from deciding what your furbaby is going to eat to making sure she is up to date with her vaccinations. Every aspect of her care goes towards her overall health and happiness. However, one part of canine care that is often is overlooked is the need to brush their teeth.

Dental problems can affect any animal with teeth, including your dog. In fact, canine dental problems are amongst one of the most common reasons for veterinary visits in the U.S. and this is largely due to the fact that many owners fail to realize how important it is to take care of their dog’s teeth. Cavities in canines are rare, owing to their largely low-sugar diet. Nevertheless, around 70% of dogs will develop some degree of periodontal disease by the time they reach just three years of age, and, much like the human version of the condition, this can have serious consequences for their health. Dogs who have periodontal disease are at greater risk of tooth loss, pain and infection. Periodontal disease has also been shown to be a contributing factor in the development of other health problems in dogs, including diabetes and some types of cancer.

Fortunately, it is possible to help protect your pet from suffering from dental problems including periodontal disease. One of the best ways to do this is to brush your dog’s teeth regularly. Experts recommend that you start the brushing process from an early age so that your pup gets used to the process very quickly. Daily brushing from 8 weeks is ideal and gives your dog the best start in terms of her dental wellbeing.

What equipment do I need to brush my dog’s teeth?

Fortunately, the things that you need to successfully brush your dog’s teeth are not expensive. While it is possible to buy canine toothbrushes, a regular, soft-bristled human brush will do the job just as well. Round-headed brushes tend to be better since they can be manoeuvred around more easily, enabling you to get to all faces of your dog’s teeth.

What is important is that you buy a canine toothpaste. You should never give your dog human toothpaste as it contains ingredients that can be highly toxic to her and make her very sick. Canine toothpastes are widely available from pet stores and veterinary surgeries and come in a variety of flavors.

Where do I begin with brushing my dog’s teeth?

The first thing to do is to get your dog used to the taste of the toothpaste. To do this, squeeze a small amount on to your finger and coax her over to taste it. She will probably sniff it first, and then if she likes the smell, go in to lick it too. If she likes the flavor you can expect her to lick your finger clean. If she doesn’t, you may need to try again, and potentially switch to a new flavor.

Once you know you have got a toothpaste that she likes, you can begin the brushing process. Place her in a comfortable position – most owners find that it is easier to hold their dog gently between their knees. Don’t force her, but if you give her some encouragement and affection, she will probably remain there comfortably. Lift up the top lip so that you can see her teeth and gums and start brushing in gentle, circular motions. You will need to talk to her and reassure her while you are cleaning her teeth, and you may only get a couple done before she resists. However, do as much as you can do and try and build up to more and more teeth each time you brush them. Make sure you pay close attention to the area where the teeth meet the gums as this is where plaque builds, and periodontal disease occurs. Over time, your dog should be able to increasingly tolerate the process until you can successfully clean all of her teeth.

At the end of a brushing session, offer your dog lots of praise and love. You could even give her a dental chew as a reward. These taste delicious but also contain ingredients that promote dental health. They are also abrasive, helping to remove any remaining food particles from her teeth.

If you would like more advice on the best way to brush your dog’s teeth, our veterinarians would be delighted to give you their tips on cleaning techniques. Please contact our Elko, NV office today to arrange an appointment.