The most common clinical condition that dogs face, gum disease is a problem that effects about 85 percent of dogs over the age of five. Aside from bad breath, gum disease does not display many outward symptoms until it is very far along. Brushing is an important step to prevent gum disease and the accompanying pain and tooth loss that is common.
Before brushing your dog’s teeth, remember to be patient with your pup and purchase the right supplies. Dogs cannot use human toothpaste, since fluoride is poisonous to them. Most pet stores will carry dog toothpaste and toothbrushes; talk to your vet to find your best option. Once you have toothpaste and toothbrush on hand, follow our advice to keep your dog’s teeth bright and healthy.
Especially when it comes to a dog’s teeth, the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” rings true. While it is possible to train an adult dog to become comfortable with you placing your hands – and a toothbrush – in their mouth, it is much easier to teach a puppy. Ease into the tooth brushing process by getting your puppy comfortable to you opening and checking around their mouth first. In time, introduce the toothbrush and begin the brushing process. The ASPCA has a great article that breaks down the cleaning process.
Talk to your Vet
If you are worried about your dog’s dental health, talk to your vet! Let them check out your furry friend’s teeth and discuss with them a brushing plan. Especially for adult dogs that have never had their teeth cleaned, a professional cleaning session can be scheduled. Once this cleaning is performed, you can keep up with brushing at home to keep their teeth tartar free! Especially if your dog has bad breath or displays any of the following symptoms, give your vet a call.
- Change in eating and chewing habits
- Excessive drooling
- Missing, misaligned, broken or discolored teeth
- Red, swollen gums
- Tartar crust along the gum line
- Bumps or growths within the mouth
Add in Dental Chews
Have a dog that just can’t stand to have their teeth brushed? Cut back on brushing frequency by introducing chew toys and bones. There are many options to choose from that are specially designed with your pup’s teeth in mind. Choose a safe option for your dog’s size to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. Also, consider switching your dog to a dry food. Soft foods are more likely to stick to and between your pup’s teeth, causing plaque and decay. Try a crunchy option to relieve this problem.
While teaching your dog to get used to the brushing process may take time, it is an important way to help them stay healthy as they age. Discuss brushing with your vet and create a regular routine to promote clean and healthy teeth.