Periodontal disease occurs frequently in dogs, and can have seriously scary consequences. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, over 80% of dogs have some kind of dental issue by age 3. If you’re not sure how to brush your dog’s teeth, and you haven’t started a routine yet, never fear! We’ve got you covered.
You can encourage healthy teeth with a regular brushing routine for your dog. It’s never too late to start, and you can help your dog adjust with plenty of praise, treats, and patience. Read up on how to brush your dog’s teeth, starting with the basics.
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Select the right dog toothbrush
The first step to pearly whites is finding the perfect canine toothbrush. Dog toothbrushes are similar to human toothbrushes, but are smaller and have much softer bristles. You can use an infant toothbrush in a pinch.
Another option? A finger toothbrush, which fits over your finger and makes cleaning those hard-to-reach areas all the easier. If you’re in a bind, a clean scrap of gauze or a washcloth will do the trick.
Find a dog-friendly toothpaste
Never use human toothpaste for your dog. Most contain fluoride, which is extremely toxic—and sometimes fatal—to dogs.
It’s vital to find a pet-friendly toothpaste (in fun flavors such as poultry and beef), or take the old-fashioned route and whip up a paste of 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon water.
Dr. Gary Richter’s Guide To Proper Toothbrushing for Dogs
Good dental care is essential to extend your pet’s life span and assure a good quality of life. Just like you, pets need to receive daily dental care at home. It is best to begin when a puppy is between 8 and 12 weeks of age; however, it is never too late. The daily brushing process should be pleasant for both you and your pet. Many pets enjoy the added attention while many clients look forward to the close quality time spent with their companion animal.
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STEP 1: Gently pet and scratch the muzzle, slowly lifting the lip for about 30 seconds. Reward with a treat at the end of the session.
STEP 2: Repeat as above except gently run your finger over your pet’s teeth for 20-30 seconds. Reward and praise again.
STEP 3: Place a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush and let your pet lick it (not actually brushing yet!)–most will really enjoy the taste, but if not, try a different flavor.
STEP 4: If all is going well, try actually brushing the teeth. Remember, the upper outer surfaces are the most important, brushing for 20-30 seconds on each side.
You know your pet best. If you can accelerate the process, go ahead. If your pet is resistant at any step, stop and try again another day. Some pets may take a few weeks to get through the steps. If you continue to have difficulty contact our office and we’ll be happy to assist.
- Try brushing your dog’s teeth when he’s worn out from play time or a good walk.
- If your dog isn’t ready for the brush, try dental wipes.
- Be patient! Take time with the process or else the pet may become resistant.
- Stop immediately if your pet shows any signs of aggression.
- Human toothpaste is not safe for pets. It can quickly cause an upset stomach.
- You do not have to rinse the toothpaste from the teeth.
- Remember, you do not have to spend time with the lower teeth, or the inside surfaces of any of the teeth.
Warning Signs of Dog Dental Problems
If you’re wondering about how to brush your dog’s teeth, you may also be concerned about your dog’s current dental health. Trust your gut if you’re worried about your dog’s teeth, and consult with your vet when in doubt.
Keep an eye out for the following signs of tooth trouble in your dog:
- Worse-than-normal breath
- Excessive drooling
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Loose or missing teeth
- Tumors and cysts in the mouth
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s definitely time to pay a visit to the vet. Oral disease can lead to life-threatening issues, so get your furry friend checked out ASAP.
Top photo via Flickr/Karen
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