You put a lot of time and effort into keeping your dog healthy by providing quality food, routine vet checkups and plenty of exercise…but what about their teeth? Many pet owners neglect that aspect of their pet’s care, so today we’re sharing some of our favorite tips and tricks from our very own veterinary dental specialist.
Just like regular grooming or the daily walks, dental care should be something your dog comes to expect each day. But that won’t happen overnight – most dogs take some time getting used to someone poking around in their mouth.
We suggest introducing dental care when your dog is still a puppy. But don’t stress if you just realized that your adult dog’s teeth need some attention. Just take a slow, patient approach, and remember that lots of love and treats go a long way in winning him over.
Most veterinary dental specialists agree that daily brushing is ideal, but if that’s unrealistic, aim for three to four times per week. And don’t be an overachiever: If your dog’s patience only lasts long enough for you to brush half their teeth today and the other half tomorrow, that’s fine.
Chews: Unfortunately, dogs can’t care for their teeth themselves, but they can help by gnawing on the right product. A good long chew can help scrape away plaque and dirt, and most dogs are happy to comply. Natural choices include rawhide or a knucklebone, which is a softer bone that’s gentler on the teeth.
Chew Toys: Some dogs won’t bite on these natural choices, but many do enjoy chewing artificial bones or chew toys. Try a variety to see what your dog likes. Always choose rubber or nylon toys with a rough or bumpy surface, large enough so that it won’t present a choking hazard.
Chew Treats: Dogs love to eat, and crunchy food and chew treats can help with your overall efforts. Look for the “VOHC-approved” stamp on any dental-cleansing product, which means they meet the tooth cleaning protocols established by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. While these items won’t replace the need to brush, they can help reduce unwanted buildup.
Doggie toothbrush: A human toothbrush works well; choose a soft one in a size to match your dog’s mouth. Canine toothbrushes are more angled and also come in a fingertip style, which slips over the end of your finger.
Canine toothpaste: Your dog needs toothpaste that’s safe to swallow. That rules out human types, which contain abrasives and detergent that your pet shouldn’t ingest.
Wipes or pads: When there’s no time for full brushing, wiping your pet’s teeth and gum line with a canine dental pad will remove bacteria and food.
How to Get Your Dog Used to Brushing
Let your dog sniff and lick the toothpaste and toothbrush.
Move your dog’s lips aside and then rub the visible teeth with either your finger or the toothbrush.
Gradually increase the number of teeth you brush, reapplying the toothpaste as needed. Remember to brush along the gum line. A circular motion works best.
Once that’s going well for a few days, try gently opening his jaw to brush the back teeth. Don’t worry if it’s too difficult to brush the inside of his teeth; with most breeds, periodontal disease is more common on the outside of teeth.
Conclude with a special reward such as play, a treat or affection even if the process didn’t go well. You want your dog to form a positive association with brushing, so a happy ending this time may make him more agreeable next time.
Good dental care, both at home and from a veterinary dental specialist, is a big part of keeping your dog healthy. With some patience and dedication, it can easily become a part of your lifestyle. Have questions or need some help? Call our office today to schedule an appointment and we’ll walk you through it!