Although a dog rarely gets cavities still the build up of plaque and tarter can cause some problems. Things such as bone loss, bad breath, tooth loss and infections in the mouth can all become issues. One very bad problem that can occur is heart valve infection which is caused by an infected gum where the bacteria spreads to other parts of the dog’s body. Keep in mind if you have a dog with bad breath, there is a problem with the dog’s teeth too.
Some dog’s that have reoccurring tarter buildup problem has had it handed down to them, its hereditary. If this is a problem you have run into you should talk to your vet about what to do about it.
Always feed your dog food with a crunch to aid in prevention of dental issues. You can also give your dog a dental chew everyday, they are loaded with fiber, protein, nutrients and antioxidants but this alone will not make it so the dog’s teeth never have to be cleaned.
How Often Should You Be Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth?
In order to prevent problems with the dog’s teeth, you should try and brush the dog’s teeth daily but most people only do it once or twice a week. Plaque can actually turn into tarter in as little as 24 hours so brushing your dog’s teeth daily will be very effective in preventing tartar buildup. If you are busy, shoot for at least once every other day.
Make a routine that your dog can get used to during the daytime hours. If you pair the brushing up with some other routine the dog is used to such as a daily walk it is easier for the dog to get used to.
Your dog’s veterinarian should be checking your dog’s teeth one time a year.
Preparations For Dog Teeth Cleaning
If you haven’t been following a schedule cleaning your dog’s teeth, it is best to have a veterinarian look at your dog’s teeth first before you start a brushing routine at home to determine the level of plaque buildup. If the dog has a tarter build up that is bad enough that a brush can not remove it then it may be necessary to have it removed with a scaler while the dog is anesthetized. Never try this at home because you can only remove what your eye can see, the vet can remove plaque from above and below the gum line.
First before you start you will need to do the following:
- Make a spot where you will brush your dog’s teeth. You may use either the bathtub or sink area as well to clean the dog’s teeth in.
- Get a soft bristled toothbrush specifically designed for dogs.
- Never use a toothpaste that has fluoride in it, just as it is poisonous for humans it is also poisonous for dogs. You can find specific dog toothpaste in the pet store.
Tips for Dog Owners
Now that you have made your mind to stick your finger into the dog’s mouth to brush his teeth, you have to worry about the safety of your own fingers and hands. Anything you do near a dog’s mouth can lead to an occasional bite or two if you are not careful. Here are a few tips to lessen the chances of this happening while you first start brushing your dog’s teeth:
- Train your dog to get used to it touching its mouth. You can get your dog to tolerate having its mouth handled by training her to get accustomed to you touching the mouth and brushing the teeth. In our ebook “Advanced Dog Grooming Training Techniques”, you can get our step-by-step on how you should go through training your dog and make dog teeth cleaning a pleasurable experience.
- You should first decide what is the best time to brush your pet’s teeth. A suggested good time is after the dog has laid down and is tired from running around so it has little energy left to “fight” you.
- You should show your dog to the toothbrush and toothpaste slowly at first. If it looks like the dog is uncomfortable about it, reassure the dog and take a break from the training. Giving your dog treats to reward his cooperative behavior will also help out drastically.
- Your goal is to brush often. The more you do it for the dog, the faster the dog will learn to get comfortable with the brushing routine.
- Since there are many different flavors of dog toothpaste now, buy small quantity or get some samples from friends/relatives to let your dog experience different tastes and see which one your dog likes most.
Procedures to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
At the beginning, calm your dog and take things slow, then the dog will begin looking forward to brushing time. Never restrain the dog too much and make the dog hate brushing.
While you are brushing the dog’s teeth, speak in a calm quite, loving tone. Make sure to praise the dog and give some gifts afterward because if it is a good time the dog will like it.
Here is step by step how to clean your dog’s teeth:
- First off you have to get the dog used to having a finger in his mouth or the experience can not be a good one. Here is how- Use just a finger and touch and rub the outside of the dog’s lips and mouth and tell him how good of a dog he is then give a reward. Now rub the inside parts, the gums, and mouth with your finger alone. You may use a pet tooth wipe or some gauze on your finger to do this part. Remember to offer good words to the dog after each step. Do this at least once a day until the dog is comfortable with your finger in it’s mouth then go to step 2.
- Now you have to get the dog used to having a toothbrush in it’s mouth. Do the same as in step one with a dry dog toothbrush. Again offer good words of praise and a reward for being calm. If he is doing good with this step add some toothpaste and move on but if the dog seems bothered at any point retract and go back to the last step.
- After the dog actually gets used to the toothbrush, add the toothpaste. Pet toothpastes usually have some sort of flavor such as malt, chicken or other flavor so the dog will like the taste. You will need to get the dog used to the flavor of the toothpaste by allowing the dog to lick some from your finger. After that you can apply some to the dog’s gums with a finger.
- Now that the dog is used to everything you can begin the brushing routine. In the beginning use a small size of toothpaste on the brush and brush slowly and softly the dog’s teeth. Start with the upper and lower canines, those are the large teeth in the front of the dog’s mouth they will be the easiest to reach and will make good practice for you.
- Once the dog is pretty used to you brushing his teeth it is time to increase the time you brush his teeth and the number of teeth from the two to more. On the back molars tarter will build up easy so pay extra attention to them. You will need to angel the brush in a bit so the brush bristles get under the gum line. Start in the back and work towards the front making small circles on the gums while brushing. It is good practice to get up to about 30 seconds of brushing on each side of the mouth.
If your dog resist strongly to having its teeth cleaned, there is a possibility that your dog may already have a dental problem and is in pain. Bring your dog to the vet for a checkup in this case.
If you are the uncomfortable type when it comes to cleaning your dog’s teeth you may want to ask your veterinarian what other options are available to you for keeping your dog’s teeth health in order. There are dental rinses and special treats that are made specifically for these situations.
Remember….It could take a while until you can brush the dog’s whole mouth. If he allows you to do that right away, that is good work!