With major advances in treating serious infectious and other pet diseases, oral disease –most importantly periodontal or gum disease caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar– has become the number-one health problem for dogs. It’s estimated that without proper dental care 80% of dogs will show signs of oral disease by age three. With your help, your pets can have healthy teeth and gums throughout their lives.
You simply need to provide them with a few things:
Chew treats recommended by a veterinarian or nutritionist (better than a vet!)
Regular brushing at home
Yearly dental checkups by a veterinarian
Brushing a dog’s teeth is about as much fun as having a root canal, but, if you can get the dog to cooperate, it has many benefits. The biggest benefit of brushing a dog’s teeth is that it keeps plaque from building up on the dog’s teeth.
If left unchecked, plaque will eventually mineralize and become tartar. Once tartar starts to build up around the dog’s teeth, it can destroy the gum line, which can cause the teeth to become loose and fall out. In other words, frequent brushing of your dog’s teeth will keep your dog’s mouth healthy and prevent tooth loss.
Second, statistics show that a dog with good teeth will love longer, play more, be happier and healthier. Dog Dental Care isn’t just about cleaning your dog’s teeth, its about having a happy and healthy dog!
Good dental health begins with the proper diet
The wrong kinds of food can cause dental distress in pets. Feeding your dog a dry food rather than a moist, canned one will, through its mild abrasive action on the teeth, help remove the bacterial plaque that can harden into tartar. Dry food also provides adequate chewing exercise and gum stimulation. Avoid giving your pet sweets and table scraps as they may also increase plaque and tartar formation. Your vet may recommend the use of special dry foods designed to reduce plaque and tartar buildup, especially if your pet is prone to dental problems due to his breed or individual genetic history.
Brushing your pet’s teeth
Dogs need to have their teeth brushed in order to eliminate the dental plaque that can cause tooth decay and the formation of tartar, which can lead to gum disease. You should begin a regular, daily brushing routine when your puppy is between six and eight weeks of age. Even older dogs can be trained to accept having their teeth brushed. You simply need to introduce the activity gradually and make the experience a positive one for your pet. Reassure and praise him profusely throughout the process and reward him with a very special treat when it’s finished.
How To Brush A Dog’s Teeth
If you have a puppy or a young dog, you’re in luck. You can begin a regimen of regular teeth brushing so as your dog grows older, they will be used to the routine and will cooperate instead of fighting the process.
On the other hand, if you have an older dog, you may find that they won’t permit you to brush their teeth because this is very foreign to them. However, you should be able to be able to accomplish the task if you use some good dog psychology and patience.
First, a word of warning – don’t use human toothpaste! Toothpaste made for humans isn’t made to be ingested. It contains ingredients that can upset the dog’s stomach. You don’t want your dog to have a negative association with having its teeth brushed! Instead, buy toothpaste that has been formulated specifically for dogs.
Here are some helpful tips for brushing a dog’s teeth
1. Before you begin to brush your dog’s teeth, get your dog used to the taste of the toothpaste. Pet toothpastes usually have poultry, malt or other flavor so the dog will like the taste. Let your dog lick some of the toothpaste off your finger. Praise the dog when he licks the toothpaste off your finger. Continue this for a few days until the dog become accustomed to licking the toothpaste off your finger.
2. Next, you will need to get the dog comfortable with the idea of having something placed against its teeth and gums. You can do this by applying a small amount of the paste to your finger and then gently rubbing it on one of the large canine teeth in the front of the mouth. Be sure to praise your dog. Making the experience as pleasant as you can for your dog will get you to your goal that much sooner.
3. Once your dog gets used to the toothpaste and having something applied to its teeth, try to get them used to the toothbrush (or dental sponge) you will be using. To do this, have the dog lick the toothpaste off the toothbrush. Be sure to praise the dog when he licks the toothpaste off the toothbrush. Continue this for about a week.
4. By now, your dog should be used to the toothbrush and toothpaste and having something in its mouth. The next step is to start brushing. You should talk to the dog using a happy voice. Left his upper lip gently and place the brush at a 45º angle to the gum line. Move the brush back and forth gently. You may just want to brush one or both upper canine teeth at first.
You do not need to brush the inside surface of the teeth. The movement of the dog’s tongue over the inside surface of its teeth will keep them relatively plaque free. Again, be sure to praise the dog, making brushing your dog’s teeth as pleasant of an experience as you can.
5. Once the dog accepts having several of its teeth brushed, you can slowly increase the number of teeth you’re brushing. If you make it appear that you’re playing a game, both you and the dog will have fun doing it.
Here’s a decent visual as to how it can be done:
Start by dipping a finger in beef or chicken bouillon for dogs. Rub this finger gently over your pet’s gums and one or two teeth. Repeat until your pet seems fairly comfortable with this activity.
Gradually, introduce a gauze-covered finger and gently scrub the teeth with a circular motion.
Then, you can begin to use a toothbrush, either an ultra-soft model designed for people or a special pet tooth-brush or finger brush, which is a rubber finger covering with a small brush built in at its tip.
Finally, once your pet is used to brushing, introduce the use of pet toothpaste in liquid or paste form. Most of these contain chlorhexidine or stannous fluoride—ask your veterinarian for his recommendations. Don’t use human toothpaste, as it can upset your pet’s stomach. Your vet may also advise the use of an antiseptic spray or rinse after brushing.
How Often Should You Brush A Dog’s Teeth?
Brushing your dog’s teeth every day will ensure you are providing good Dog dental care, but every other day is also an acceptable practice. Most dog toothpastes have a residual effect that lasts thirty minutes to an hour beyond the brushing time. For your dog to get the most benefit out of having its teeth brushed, it’s important that you remove access to food and water during this time.
A good time to brush your dog’s teeth is just before bedtime. It establishes a good routine by helping you to remember your dog’s dental care needs as you take care of your own.
Types Of Dog Toothbrushes Available
There are numerous types of toothbrushes available for your dog dental care . The types of dog toothbrushes available include finger toothbrushes, dental sponges, dog dental wipes, triple brushes, quad brushes, bamboo quad brushes and straight toothbrushes with one or two sets of bristles – one large and one small for large and small teeth.
The finger toothbrushes fit over your finger and are easy to use. As you might guess, the quad brushes (regular and bamboo) have four sets of bristles to clean all sides of the teeth in one motion and are said to reach the dog’s gum line with minimal pressure on the gums.
Drs. Foster and Smith have a Triple Pet Toothbrush (with three sets of bristles) that the company says will clean all sides of your pet’s teeth at once – making brushing your dog’s teeth fast and easy.
Dog dental wipes aren’t as effective as brushing your dog’s teeth, but they will do in a pinch.
Types Of Dog Toothpastes Available
There are a variety of dog toothpastes available to assist you in brushing your dog’s teeth. Most veterinary dentists recommend toothpastes, gels, and rinses that contain chlorhexidine, hexametaphosphate, or zinc gluconate. If your dog has periodontal disease, you may need to buy a toothpaste that contains fluoride or some other toothpaste as prescribed by your veterinarian.
Here are some of the more popular dog toothpastes available:
Petco Natural Dog Toothpaste
Petco says this toothpaste helps maintain healthy teeth and gums and is formulated with natural ingredients, so that it requires no rinsing. It will also fight bad dog breath.
Nutri-Vet Breath & Tartar Toothpaste for Dogs
This dog toothpaste is said to be a non-foaming, chicken flavored toothpaste that will help reduce plaque and tartar formation. In addition it will freshen the dog’s breath.
St. Jon Dog Toothpaste
St. Jon Dog Toothpaste is a hydrogen peroxide-producing formula that their manufacturer says has been formulated specifically for dogs. It does not foam so there is no rinsing necessary. St. Jon further says the toothpaste helps control plaque and fights bad breath.
Don’t forget a yearly dental checkup
Doing your best to ensure that your dog receives the proper diet and regular brushing at home will help maintain his or her teeth and gums in top condition. To provide optimum dental care at home, you need to start with a clean bill of dental health. That’s where your pet’s veterinarian comes in.
He or she will give your pet a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity to determine whether there are any underlying problems and, especially important, tartar buildup. Brushing removes plaque but not tartar, so if your pet’s teeth do have tartar, your veterinarian will have to remove it with a professional cleaning and polishing, usually accomplished under anaesthesia. After removing the tartar above and below the gum line, your veterinarian may treat your pet’s teeth with fluoride and will provide you with instructions for home care and follow-up.
A few tips:
Chew treats, including hard meat-protein biscuits and rawhide chews for dogs, can help remove plaque, and provide stimulation for the gums. Your Life’s Abundance Representative can show you the incredible dental products available from a company who has NEVER had a single product recalled.
Watch out for wood—throwing sticks to dogs can result in splinters and gum damage.
Don’t let your pet chew on hard materials like bones or stones. They can wear down, even break teeth, damage gums and lead to infection. Even a plastic Frisbee will wear their teeth down. Always use a “soft” Frisbee when playing with your dog.
A few statistics:
Puppies develop their deciduous teeth at 2 weeks of age, with their 42 permanent teeth starting to appear at 3 months.
Brushing a dog’s teeth is no walk in the park. It takes practice and patience. Making it fun for both you and your dog will ensure it becomes part of your routine. It makes it all worthwhile when you consider the money you save on dog dental care and the benefits your dog derives from having healthy teeth and gums not to mention the suffering you prevent by avoiding Dental Diseases!
His passion, enthusiasm and love for the dog is evident in his many years of experience as well as his hunger to learn more and it is all this that has made him what he is today! He has had extensive training in the area of canine behavior and training! His studies have included 2 summers in the kennels of the New Skete Monestary, 1 year mentoring with Dr. Ian Dunbar, 1 year mentoring with Ed Frawley, and 2 years association with Michael Ellis!
He is a current Professional Member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and owns and operates his own dog training business with 45+ years of professional Canine Training experience in his kitty! You are in good hands with Scott!