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  • Writer's pictureKaren Bradford

Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

Nothing is sweeter than puppy kisses… as long as you hold your breath while they’re breathing in your face. Your dog’s kisses may be sweet, but their breath definitely isn’t. You might be thinking it’s just their food or the fact that sometimes they eat gross stuff in the yard, but there could be other reasons behind their stinky breath.

You’ve probably walked past rows and rows of dog toothbrushes in the pet store and wondered, what’s the point? Is brushing your dog’s teeth really something you need to do? Is it easy? Will it make your dog’s breath a little less funky?

February is Dental Health Month, and we’re here to discuss a key aspect of your dog’s health that often gets dismissed: their dental health. Stick with us and find out why you should brush your dog’s teeth and the best way to get the job done.

Why You Should Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Let’s get right to it. If you aren’t brushing your dog’s teeth, you should be. Dental health is about more than just improving your dog’s breath. Bad dental health can be linked to a lot of other health issues.

dog open mouth dog teeth

Tartar build-up can lead to inflamed and infected gums, which will eventually lead to periodontal disease. This will eventually move into the bone, causing the teeth to become loose and fall out. Dogs that don’t have appropriate dental care can show signs of periodontal disease as young as the age of 3.

It’s not just gum disease and loss of teeth you need to worry about. The bacteria that build up in your dog’s mouth can go systemic. This means the bacteria can travel to other parts of the body and cause infection in the liver, kidneys, and even the heart.

Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth will make it easier for you to spot any problems they may have in their mouth before their teeth become coated in tartar. Clean teeth will lead to a healthier dog… with better breath as a nice bonus.

How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Even if you have an older dog, you can get him to accept having his teeth brushed. You’ll need to start slowly to get your dog adjusted, but if you’re patient, you will get your dog to accept this new part of his routine.

Make sure you have the appropriate equipment before you start, so you can move easily through each stage of training your dog to have his teeth brushed.

  • Toothbrush- You don’t want to use just any toothbrush. Get a toothbrush designed for dogs. They have smaller heads that are shaped just right for fitting into a dog’s mouth. They also have softer bristles than human toothbrushes, which is important for preventing damage to your dog’s gums.

If you’re just starting out brushing your dog’s teeth, you can start out with a brush that fits over your finger. You can find these in the dental health section of most pet stores. They really are a useful tool!

  • Toothpaste- Get a toothpaste meant for dogs. Not only will it be a flavor that your dog might enjoy, but it will also be free of ingredients that may be toxic.

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

1) Start slowly, letting your dog sniff the toothbrush and get used to this new item. Put a tiny bit of toothpaste on the brush, and let your dog lick it off.

2) Start trying to touch your dog’s teeth with the brush. It might take some time for your pup to get used to this, but keep trying.

3) After your dog accepts the brush in his mouth, start brushing. Start with the rear and cheek teeth. Brush from the gums down. Concentrate on each side of your dog’s mouth for about 30 seconds.

4) As you brush your dog’s teeth try to keep your eyes open for any concerning areas. Broken teeth, bleeding gums, or areas that seem painful need to be examined by a veterinarian.

You don’t need to worry about rinsing out your dog’s mouth. Dog toothpaste is formulated to be swallowed.

woman brushing dog's teeth

Don’t force your dog to let you brush his teeth or force the brush into his mouth. This will cause a struggle that will make it harder for your dog to accept having his teeth brushed.

Maintaining Dental Health Between Brushings

Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth every day, but up to 3 times a week is sufficient. Make sure you take steps to keep your dog’s teeth clean in between brushing.

  • Make sure your dog has plenty of toys to chew. Chewing doesn’t just keep your dog occupied. It has the side benefit of helping keep your dog’s teeth clean. Toys designed for tooth cleaning help keep the area around the gums clean. Raw bones are also good for helping keep teeth clean. Sturdy bones, like beef bones, are the type that should be used. Poultry and cooked bones are too fragile and can splinter, causing injury.

  • Feed your dog a healthy diet. A healthy diet, in turn, promotes your dog’s overall wellbeing. That’s why you want to make sure the food is high quality to help promote dental health. Do some research and talk with your veterinarian about the healthiest food option for your dog.

  • Schedule your dog for regular dental check-ups. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems that you might overlook. Veterinary dental exams are performed under anesthesia so the veterinarian can remove plaque build-up. The vet may do x-rays on any suspicious-looking teeth to ensure your dog’s mouth is in good health. During the exam, your vet will check your dog’s mouth for tumors, cysts, and other possibly dangerous conditions that you may not have been able to see.

As you can see, your dog’s dental health is extremely important. Keep your dog on track by starting him on a regular brushing routine. With good dental care, you can look forward to puppy kisses that won’t make you feel like totally passing out.

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