When you become a pet parent, you take on the responsibility of ensuring that your animal is as healthy and happy as they can be. One of the ways that you can do this is to take proper care of your pet’s teeth. Dental health is just as important for pets as it is for humans, and poor oral hygiene in animals can cause serious issues with their teeth, jaw and the soft tissues of their mouth, including periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is a serious problem facing the vast majority of dogs, with estimates suggesting that without proper dental care, 70% of canines will have some degree of periodontal disease by the age of three. Left untreated, periodontal disease has been linked to the development of a range of medical conditions, including diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular problems and even some oral cancers. Therefore, it is essential to do everything that you can to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. One of the most important aspects of canine dental care is to brush your dog’s teeth as regularly as possible.
Introducing teeth brushing
Dogs need to have their teeth brushed so that the dental plaque that can cause decay is scrubbed away before it can do any damage to her teeth. Daily brushing is preferable, and if you have recently become a parent to a puppy, you should introduce daily brushing from around six or eight weeks of age. However, if you have an older furbaby who isn’t used to having her teeth cleaned, you may need to work up to this frequency gradually. It is important to make the brushing experience a positive one, as this will help your pet to not only tolerate the process but even possibly enjoy it.
Get the right equipment
So, what should you use to brush your pet’s teeth? Firstly, you will need a toothbrush. A regular human toothbrush will suffice, just be sure to pick one that has a small, preferably round head. This will be much easier to maneuver inside her mouth and enable you to do a more thorough clean.
While a human toothbrush is acceptable, when it comes to toothpaste, you must not use your own. Human toothpaste contains chemicals that are highly toxic to your dog and could make her very unwell. Instead, you should purchase a specialist canine toothpaste. These tend to be created in flavors like poultry that are much more appealing to your pet too!
Get your dog used to the taste of toothpaste
The first thing to do is to get your canine companion used to the taste of her special toothpaste. Squeeze a small amount on to your finger and encourage your furbaby to sniff and even lick it. Hopefully, she likes the taste and comes back for more. However, if she seems unable to tolerate the taste then it may be worth trying another flavor.
Once you are confident that she likes the smell and taste of her toothpaste, it is time to start trying to brush her teeth. Remember that she may not be able to tolerate the entire process the first time you attempt to clean them. Gradual exposure may be necessary to get her used to the sensations and sounds of the process.
Begin by lifting her lip to expose the surfaces of her teeth and gums. Start brushing the outside surfaces of the teeth slowly and calmly, moving the toothbrush in a circular manner. If she reacts positively, continue brushing while offering lots of praise and reassuring words.
The canines and upper molars tend to build up tartar more than other teeth, so it is important that you get around to brushing these as soon into introducing the process as possible. If your furbaby can tolerate brushing well, you may even be able to brush these back teeth very early on.
Make brushing a positive experience
As with all grooming aspects of her care, you should always try and make dental care a positive and enjoyable experience. Praise, healthy treats and plenty of love and affection will let your canine pal know that you are pleased with her behavior.
Professional dental cleanings
While at-home cleaning is crucial to the dental health of your dog, it is just as important to ensure that she receives a professional-grade clean by our veterinary dentist at least once a year. These procedures are performed under general anesthetic and give our vet uncompromised access and time to give your dog a truly comprehensive clean that is well beyond the standard of anything that is possible to provide in a home environment. Our vet will be happy to suggest a schedule of cleaning which will be based on the health of your dog’s teeth.
If you would like further information on how to brush your dog’s teeth, or if you would like to schedule an appointment for a professional clean with our experienced team, please do not hesitate to contact us today.