Why dental care is important for your pet.
Dogs don’t get cavities the way humans do, but they do get plaque, tartar, and gingivitis — all of which can cause foul breath and tooth problems. Trips to the doggie dentist can end up being costly, and your dog will have to be put under anesthesia, because no dog ever “opens wide” for any dentist or vet.
Brushing your dog’s teeth is important, but how often you do it depends on your dog and your motivation factor. Poor doggie dental care, however, can lead to dental infections that can travel to your pooch’s heart, causing major problems and even death! If you’re unable to brush your dog’s teeth at home, try letting your groomer take on that hassle for you. A good teeth brushing during each grooming visit can greatly help slow down the tartar build-up process. Here are a few tips for at-home doggie dental care:
Tips for Good Doggie Dental Care
- Get your dog regular exams and cleanings. Good oral care doesn’t start and stop with tooth brushing. It should include regular dental exams, including X-rays and a professional cleaning under general anesthesia.
- Start young. If you’ve got a puppy, now is the time to include brushing in his good-manners training. But have no fear, even pets in their teens can learn to love a good brushing — if you take it slow.
- Brush gradually and gently. Start by putting a little toothpaste on their brush and let your dog lick it off. Then try touching the toothbrush to your dog’s teeth. After that, brush for a few seconds. Now, your dog is ready for a real brushing, raise her lips to expose teeth and gums. Then brush from the gum line to the tip of the tooth. Avoid opening your pet’s mouth, which can lead to panic and struggling.
- Use toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Toothpastes for humans contain certain types of fluorides and detergents that are meant to be spit out after you brush. Your dog will swallow toothpaste, so buy a product meant for pets. Pet toothpaste can come in a host of flavors, including poultry, beef, seafood, malt, peanut, and vanilla-mint.
- Use a pet-specific toothbrush. The heads of brushes made for people are too wide for a pet’s mouth, and even soft bristles are usually too hard. Talk to your veterinarian about the best toothbrush for your dog. Your vet may suggest a soft power brush. Or some vets suggest a finger brush that slips over your finger like a thimble. But avoid finger brushes if you have a small dog; your finger is just too big to be a comfortable fit for your pet’s mouth.
- Brush in back. For pets, dental problems are often most severe in the back, upper teeth.
- Chew on this. Dogs benefit greatly from chewing every day on something that helps keep teeth clean.