Brushing your dog’s teeth is essential for ensuring great oral health. Periodontal or gum disease in dogs is a serious problem after 5 years old. Studies show that 85% of dogs over the age of 5 already have periodontal problems. Years of food particles and bacteria build up and harden. Once it hardens into tartar it will then inflame the gums. As the gums start to separate from the teeth, pockets will form and fill with more bacteria, allowing the cycle to continue. This is extremely painful for your dog, will cause bad breath, weight loss and in some cases bacterial infections will spread throughout their body. Periodontal disease is irreversible, and prevention is key.
Create a Positive Experience
Before you open the tooth brush and tooth paste, use your finger and a favorite treat such as chicken broth, or peanut butter to get your dog used to the feel of having their teeth brushed. If your dog struggles, speak to your dog as calmly as possible and try again. Go slow. The sensation will be much different to anything else your dog has felt before, especially if you are starting out later in life. Once your dog is okay with this, then try using the tooth paste the same way.
Depending on the relationship with your dog and how your dog reacts to the tooth paste, you may be able to start brushing with the tooth brush right away. If not, you will have to start slower, by getting your dog used to the idea that you will be opening their mouth and moving his or her lips aside. Repeat over a few days multiple times.
Right before you start brushing, make sure you have all your supplies at hand. You will need both hands, so it is okay to tie your dog up on a short leash. Make sure to leave enough slack in the leash so your dog can sit or lay down comfortably, but not so much they can get away.
While brushing, ensure that you are alternating between outer and inner sides of the teeth and keeping the sessions short. It is particularly important to brush where you see the teeth and the gums meet. This is where the food particles and bacterial has been accumulating. After you have finished brushing, be sure to give your dog a treat, so they know they have done well and know good things happen after having their teeth cleaned.
Pet parents should be brushing their dog’s teeth every day, just as we do. If this is not possible for whatever reason, then 3 to 4 times a week with other dental products can do. The important part is to stay consistent and brush regularly. The closer your dog’s teeth are, particularly in smaller breeds, the more likely they are to develop a periodontal disease
Brushing away tartar and germs on a consistent schedule is the only way to stave off oral diseases in the future.
What Not To Do
Do not use any tooth pastes or other dental cleaning products sold and specified for human use. There are ingredients within products we use than can be very harmful for your dog, will make him or her sick and even cause death.
Do not yell, speak negatively or overpower your dog into having their teeth brushed. Doing so will create a negative experience associated with teeth brushing that is difficult to overcome. Remember, you are brushing your dog’s teeth to help him or her. He or she does not understand that.
What if My Dog Hates It?
Nothing directly replaces brushing your dog’s teeth. Brushing his or her teeth with the traditional tooth brush and tooth paste is the best and most effective way. However, there are products available at your local pet supply store such as special treats, sprays and water additives that can be used in conjunction with teeth brushing to make it easier and not needed as often.
You can also have your pets teeth cleaned professionally by your veterinarian under anesthesia, which will include an oral exam. However, starting out as young as possible will highly decrease the chances that your dog will dislike having their teeth brushed. Always remember to stay positive and reward your dog for cooperating and your dog will look forward to it the next time!