Dogs and teeth-brushing often go together as well as oil and water. Dogs tend to have better things to do than sit patiently while their owners try to give them a Hollywood smile. There are always new smells to smell, naps to take or walks to go on, after all.
Hard as it may be to get your pet to sit still, it’s important that you try. Find out how dogs can suffer as much as us if their teeth don’t get the care they need as we give you the lowdown on how to brush your dog’s teeth.
Why Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?
Regular removal of plaque is the key to any oral hygiene plan for dogs. If you don’t brush your pet’s teeth regularly, plaque, a biofilm of bacteria, will build up along the gum line.
After a while calculus will develop. This acts as an irritant to the gums. Infections can then break out causing the loosening and even destruction of the teeth. Infections underneath the gum line can spread to the heart, liver and kidneys.
Halitosis or bad breath is one of the signs of these kinds of periodontal disease. Your dog may also experience pain and an inability to chew hard food along with excessive drooling, sometimes with blood included.
You can reduce all these kinds of infections from taking hold with regular brushing. Here are three important things to remember about pets and dental care:
- Prevention is always the best course of action
- You’ll save cash on unnecessary treatments caused by poor dental hygiene
- You’ll bond more with your pet and stop preventable suffering
If you’ve left brushing your dog’s teeth off your “to-do” list for a long time, book a professional cleaning session with your vet first. Do not wait.
Diet can help to control plaque, but you’ll always need to brush as well. Talk to your vet about any dietary changes you might need to make.
How Can I Make Brushing Dog’s Teeth Fun?
Training your dog to enjoy brushing their teeth takes patience, perseverance and time. It won’t happen overnight and could take at least a month or so before your dog relaxes enough to let you brush.
Take baby steps and have plenty of treats for rewarding the right behavior. If your pet already has dental disease, remember that brushing with your finger may cause pain and cause your dog to bite.
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Teeth Cleaning Products
First up you need the tools to make teeth brushing a success. Gauze tends to be more abrasive than rubber finger brushes. It’s also less invasive compared to a brush with a handle. Gauze lets you feel when you’re touching teeth or delicate gums.
It’s important to select a toothpaste designed and approved for pets. Never use human kinds of toothpaste as some have Xylitol in them that’s toxic to pets. Talk to your vet about the options available.
You could also begin the training by using gravy to help create a positive association with brushing.
Let the Brushing Begin!
Teeth brushing for dogs is all about small steps. Start by unfolding one of your gauze squares and wrap it around your index finger, pinch the end with your thumb. Put a small dot of whatever product you intend to use on the tip of the gauze on and let your dog lick it. Do this 3-4 times.
Next, gradually slide the finger that has the gauze wrapped around it under your dog’s upper lip. Try to make a gentle brushing action for a few seconds. Then, let your pet lick off any toothpaste product you have left on the finger.
Try not to restrain your dog’s head. Be led by them and follow them should they move their head away from you. Practice these first few steps until your dog stays still and licks the remaining toothpaste product away enthusiastically.
Getting More Advanced in Your Training
Once your dog gets used to your finger and the toothpaste (remember, this may takes days or weeks), start placing your finger further into their mouth. Try to reach the back teeth.
Start to gear up the number of gentle brushing swipes. Always let your dog lick away any remaining toothpaste. You can now start to put your hand under their chin to keep their head still if you need to.
Keep practicing and brush the outer surface of the lower teeth on the same side of the mouth.
Remember to Massage the Gums
Now, wrap a fresh piece of gauze around your finger to regain abrasiveness. Put extra toothpaste on your finger and brush the top and bottom teeth on both sides of the mouth.
To keep your pet’s mouth as healthy as possible, gently massage the gums too. This helps to improve blood circulation in the gums so that they stay healthy and strong.
Praise and Reward
Some dog owners will give up too easily if they don’t get great brushing results immediately. It takes time to get a dog used to the whole teeth brushing ritual. Think of it as a regular bonding session that you can make fun using plenty of treats.
The payback will be lower vet bills and a happier healthier dog. Don’t worry if you don’t do a perfect job every time. What’s most important is for your dog to feel relaxed and eager to join in on the regular teeth brushing sessions.
Try to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Every Day
You should aim to brush your dog’s teeth every day, or at least a few times per week. Keep your dog’s toothpaste in the place where you will carry out the daily brushing routine. Invest a little bit of time training your dog to enjoy tooth brushing for the best results.
Your pet’s health is going to improve and you’ll impress your vet by being so proactive in looking after your dog’s general health and well-being. You’ll also reduce the regularity and intensity of professional dental cleaning sessions.
A Clean Bill of Health
Keeping your dog’s mouth and teeth clean can help keep them free of serious heart disease and infections related to other organs. It will also help to keep their breath smelling fresher.
If you have more questions or need reassurance about cleaning your dog’s teeth, get in touch with us now. A video consultation with one of Cooper Pet Care’s qualified veterinarians is also only a few clicks away. Fast, simple, and secure – get the answers you need.
You can find lots more useful articles related to keeping your dog happy and healthy in our blog section here. We can also offer a variety of highly competitive pet insurance products. Get in touch to find out more.