As in humans, regular toothbrushing should be an integral part of dental care in dogs as well. It helps prevent plaque and tartar buildup which in turn helps prevent periodontal disease, one of the most common and most serious dental problems in pets. In addition to causing bad breath, pain and tooth loss, periodontal disease can also cause a very dangerous infection.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Correctly?
You should brush your dog’s teeth once a day or at least several times a week using a toothbrush and toothpaste designed especially for dogs. The recommended toothbrushing technique is very similar to that recommended for people with the difference that instead of up and down motion, dogs’ teeth should be brushed by making small circular movements. But for most dog owners, the main challenge is to make their pet to accept having the teeth brushed in the first place.
Getting Your Dog Accustomed to Having His Teeth Brushed
Getting the dog accustomed to having his teeth brushed is half of the work. To make it less stressful for both of you, you are advised to start slowly. Show your dog the toothbrush and wait a few seconds for them to “get to know each other”. Then, lift your dog’s lip and gently brush his teeth – but without toothpaste in order for him to get accustomed to the feeling of having the toothbrush in the mouth. The next step is to offer your pet a small amount of toothpaste to taste it. Move to the actual toothbrushing only if the “introduction phase” was successful. If it wasn’t, repeat the part that didn’t go well later in the day or start all over again tomorrow. If your dog is repeatedly refusing to taste the toothpaste, however, consider a different flavor.
Once your dog accepts the idea of being touched in the mouth area and having his teeth brushed with a toothbrush and paste, establishing a toothbrushing routine is only a matter of time. Be persistent but don’t overdo it. If your dog is restless or upset, resist the temptation to brush all the teeth. Instead, increase the time of toothbrushing gradually. Also, choose the timing wisely – your dog is more likely to remain still after physical activity or exercise – and reward him after each toothbrushing session.
Even Healthy Teeth Require Periodic Examination by a Veterinarian
Dogs can develop plaque and tartar buildup even if having the best dental care possible. But they can also develop various dental diseases which can go unnoticed to the untrained eye to the point they start causing pain or serious dental/health problems. For that reason it is very important to have your dog’s teeth and gums examined by a veterinarian at least once a year.
If you notice any signs of dental problems or yellowish-brown plaques (tartar), make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. You are also recommended to contact your veterinarian for an advice if you are having difficulties establishing a toothbrushing routine.