Do you brush your dog’s teeth? Maybe you’ve never felt the need to or you never thought you were supposed to in the first place, but experts highly recommend brushing your dog’s teeth daily or at least 2-3 times per week!
It’s best to begin brushing your dog’s teeth at an early age to get him used to the process early on. But if you didn’t start brushing your dog’s teeth when he was a puppy, don’t feel like you should skip the process altogether. Starting a brushing routine at any age is better than never brushing your dog’s teeth at all his entire life.
The Dangers of Never Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Just as for humans, oral hygiene is extremely important for dogs. If you don’t attend to your dog’s teeth and gums, it could lead to all kinds of health issues. When plaque and bacteria build up on your dog’s teeth, they can harden and turn into tartar, which is much more difficult to remove, AND it may lead to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) or tooth loss. Aside from gum disease, rotting teeth, and mouth infections, your dog could also end up having kidney, heart, or liver issues if harmful bacteria from his mouth enters his bloodstream.
According to PetMD, by age three, 80% of pets already have periodontal disease! Periodontitis is serious. It occurs when gingivitis is not treated soon enough; plaque spreads too far below the gum line, and gums begin to pull away from teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria can live. Periodontitis can cause teeth to break down or fall out. Before your dog joins this large majority, start brushing his teeth regularly.
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Start Early If Possible
It will not only make it easier for your dog to learn how to tolerate brushing early on, but it will make it easier on you as well. If your dog is no longer a puppy, you may need to work with a dog trainer to train your dog to tolerate the process.
Get Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned Professionally
Before you begin this brushing regimen, take your dog in for a dental checkup to find out what condition his teeth and gums are in presently. If your dog does in fact have gum disease, brushing his teeth at this time could cause him a lot of pain and discomfort, so it’s better to have them cleaned professionally BEFORE you jump in and take over. Chances are, if you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth, some tartar will already have built up on them and need to be removed by a professional. The vet can also take x-rays to determine what further treatment, if any, may be needed.
At the checkup, ask how often you should brush your dog’s teeth and how often you should bring your dog in for a profesional dental cleaning and checkup. Depending on his current condition, it may be more or less than other dogs. The minimum recommendation for teeth brushing is once per week, advised by PetMD. If your dog is more likely to have plaque develop on his teeth, brush them 2-3 times per week, and if he already has periodontitis, your vet may recommend brushing every day.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
PetMD recommends using a flat profile toothbrush and special paste made especially for dogs (usually beef or poultry flavored). You can also use baking soda and water (if you can get away with it). Don’t ever use human toothpaste when brushing your dog’s teeth! Artificial sweeteners (xylitol) and fluoride can be very harmful to your pet. You can also simply use a toothbrush and water and forget the paste. Brush your dog’s teeth and gums at a 45-degree angle in a small, circular motion.
Dog Training in Seattle
The Dog’s Way is based in Washington, but we can assist you with dog training no matter where you are located! We have dog training DVDs and a podcast on dog training available for you to check out on our website at any time. If you live in the Seattle area and are looking for a dog trainer to meet with in person, give us a shout! Sean McDaniel would love to work with you and your dog!
We also have a free guide to teach you how to turn terrible treks with your dog into peaceful strolls. If your dog behaves poorly on walks, this guide is for you! Check it out by clicking on the button below and downloading it for free!
The information contained in The Dog’s Way website is presented as public service information only. It is not intended to be nor is it a substitute for professional veterinary advice. Consult with your vet for diagnosis of and questions about your dog’s condition. The Dog’s Way occasionally supplies links to other web sites as a service to its readers and is not in any way responsible for information provided by other organizations.