It’s February and that means it is National Pet Dental Health Month. Now is a good time to remind you how important your dog’s oral health is important to their overall health, happiness and well being of your pup.
Why is Canine Dental Health So Important?
Just like us humans, dental care is just as important for dogs. Neglecting oral hygiene in dogs can lead to issues like bad breath, tartar build-up, gum disease and even larger health problems such as heart, lung and kidney disease.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Step 1 – Set a routine
Set a routine by trying to brush your dog’s teeth at the same time every day. Find a time when your dog is relaxed and calm. If you can’t brush your dog’s teeth on a daily basis, even two to three times a week can make a significant difference.
Step #2 – Get your supplies ready
You’ll need a toothbrush that’s made specifically for dogs. Dog toothbrushes have softer bristles and are angled for their mouths. Finger brushes work well for dogs under 30lbs. For larger dogs, a handled toothbrush may help with a better reach.
Next, use dog toothpaste. These come in dog-friendly flavors like poultry or peanut butter. Please don’t use toothpaste designed for people; it contains ingredients harmful to a dog’s stomachs.
Step #3 – Gain your dog’s trust
It’s very important to approach your dog gently! This can take time so be patient. We wouldn’t recommend standing over your dog, trying to hold them down or take a threatening stance. Instead, get down on their level and sit in a relaxed position next to your dog. Give lots of praise and encouragement, build that trust up!
You can begin to test your dog’s willingness by touching their mouth or rubbing their gums. This will help your dog get used to having their mouth touched.
You may need to do this a few times before they are ready for you to start using a toothbrush. Be patient.
While you are getting your dog used to having their mouth touched, try to find a toothpaste flavor they enjoy. The idea is for your dog to think of the toothpaste as a treat.
Step #4 – Start brushing
Once your dog is used to you touching his or her mouth, you can start using the toothbrush and toothpaste. Life the upper lip and angle the brush so you reach the gumline. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle so it feels more like a massage and clears away the plaque.
Use a circular motion, making sure to clean the top and bottom of each side. You may notice some bleeding occur. Light bleeding is normal, but ongoing or heavy bleeding may mean you’re brushing too hard or it may be a sign of gum disease. Speak with your veterinarian for advice.
Brush a few teeth at a time. Try to brush for two minutes in total. If your dog resists, start on the outsides of the canine and back teeth, where plaque tends to collect. If you can get the insides, great. But if your dog won’t let you, don’t stress about it. Your dog’s coarse tongue keeps that area cleaner.
Step #5 – Be reassuring
Keep the mood light and keep reassuring your dog during the brushing session. Remind your dog what a good pup they are by patting their head and lots of praise.
End on a positive note. Reward your dog with a treat or extra attention. Always stop when things are still fun, but before your dog gets upset.
Remember that good dental care is more than brushing. There are chews and treats that can help fight plaque buildup.