Do you Need to Brush your Dog's Teeth?
The statistics for dental disease in dogs is frightening. It's estimated that two-thirds of dogs over three years old have dental disease. This means teeth covered in bacteria-rich plaque that hardens to tartar, this irritates the gums causing soreness and bleeding and not to mention, bad breath. The eventual result is gum recession, tooth root infections, and wobbly teeth.
All of which makes regular tooth brushing an important way to safeguard your pet's good health. People brush their teeth every day. Dogs should do too, it's just they depend on their owner to lend a helping paw.
How do you Start Brushing your Dog's Teeth?
Many owners make the mistake of expecting to do a full mouth brush on day one. The dog has no clue what's happening, takes fright, and then refuses to let the owner anywhere near their mouth ever again.
The secret to success is to take things slowly and win the dog's confidence. Here's how:
- Do this by putting a spot of scrumptious pet toothpaste onto the brush and let the dog lick it off.
- Do this day after day until the dog wags when they spot this treat-on-a-brush.
- Then touch a dab of toothpaste onto an easy to reach tooth, such as the fangs at the front.
- Let the dog lick the toothpaste off their tooth and praise them.
- Once the dog is comfortable with this, rub the brush once across a few more teeth.
The aim is to slowly build up the dog's tolerance of the brush in their mouth. This can take weeks to months, but the result is a dog happy to let you brush all of their teeth. Then make tooth brushing part of the daily routine for maximum benefit.
Can you Brush your Dog's Teeth with Human Toothpaste?
No, human toothpaste is not safe to use in dogs. This is because human toothpaste contains an ingredient, fluoride, which is toxic to dogs when swallowed. Instead, use one of the many types of pet toothpaste that are on the market. Pet toothpastes also have the advantage that they are flavoured with dogs in mind, with appealing flavours such as poultry or beef. Most dogs find pet toothpaste delicious, which gives you an advantage when cleaning their teeth.
Is it Too Late to Brush my Dog's Teeth?
If you have an older dog, get their teeth checked by a vet before you start. This is because brushing very dirty teeth may push bacteria into inflamed gums with the potential risk of blood poisoning, which can make pets seriously ill.
Ideally, teach a puppy to enjoy tooth brushing, but if you have an adult dog you can teach them new tricks. The secret is to use pet toothpaste (which is tasty to dogs) and gradually get them used to teeth cleaning. This can be a slow process, but well worth putting the effort in.
How often should you get your dog's teeth descaled?
Generally most dogs will need oral exams, cleanings, and dental X-rays about once a year, starting at about 6 months of age.
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