You brush your teeth every day – at least I hope you do. But you do so because you know that good dental hygiene is important to your overall health. And much like us, our dogs need their teeth regularly maintained in order to keep their overall health good. If a dog’s teeth are not regularly maintained, then they can experience medical complications that can become life-threatening.
One of these is periodontal disease, which can affect 85% of dogs older than 4 years old. That is why regularly brushing their teeth is important to keep them healthy. It is a good idea to check your dog’s gums and teeth at least once a week. You should be looking for gums that are pink rather than white or red. And there should be no signs of swelling. The teeth should be clean, with no signs of brownish tartar. Plus, their breath shouldn’t smell bad. If you notice that your dog has inflamed red gums and bad breath, then they have gingivitis. The good news is this is treatable with regular teeth cleaning. If it’s left untreated, it will develop into periodontal disease.
Follow These Steps for Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
- Get your dog into a comfortable position where you can gently grab their muzzle. Place your fingers in your dog’s mouth for a few seconds every day, and massage the gums in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a couple of weeks. After each session, you can introduce some positive reinforcement with a treat or affection.
- Next, get them used to canine-friendly toothpaste. Put a small amount on your finger and gradually work it around their entire mouth, pretending like you’ve got a toothbrush. IMPORTANT: use a specifically designed toothpaste that is made for dogs. Or, alternatively, you can use baking soda and water. DO NOT use human toothpaste as it will irritate their stomach. And don’t use fluoride on dogs under the age of six months because their enamel on is still forming, and the fluoride will interfere with that.
- Next, get your dog used to a toothbrush designed for dogs. If you have a small dog you can use a “cat-sized” brush instead. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger are also an option. Wet the bristles and work it around in gentle circular motions and strokes from the gum line down.
- The important part is to make your dog used to a daily teeth brushing routine. Once they’re used to it, you can brush their teeth 2-3 times per week. Although, daily is always best. It is also important to regularly follow up with a vet to make sure their teeth are in good health.
Besides brushing, there are other dental aids that can be used to maintain oral health – such as chew toys and oral water additives. Of course, these should never be used as a replacement to brushing their teeth, but rather extra help.