As dedicated pet parents, we put in extra effort to care for our dogs. We spend time researching on the best food to feed them, we buy them all the toys and treat they could ever wanted. However, it becomes a different story when it comes to brushing their teeth. Just like humans, plaque and tartar builds up on and around our dog’s teeth when there is improper dental care.
Not only does gum diseases lead to pain and discomfort for dogs, it could also lead to serious health problems such as kidney, liver or heart disease. It is best to start developing this habit of brushing teeth when our dogs are still puppies, it is not too late to start now! Take it slow, one step at a time. If you are worried that your dog will resist having their teeth brushed, reward your dog after each session so that it knows that good things come from having their teeth brushed.
Brushing your dog’s teeth may feel like a challenge, but these tips can help make the experience comfortable for you and your pet. Remember to only get pet-friendly toothbrush and pet-safe toothpaste that is suitable for your dog! Here’s how we can get started.
Getting familiar with the toothbrush
Before diving straight into using a brush or paste, get your dog familiar with the toothbrush. This can be done by regularly lifting up their lips and offer them rewards for good behaviour. Incorporate rubbing your finger along the sides of their teeth and gum to get your dog used to having something in their mouth.
Get in a comfortable position
Most dogs will squirm and try to get away when you attempt to brush their teeth. Position your dog in a way that it is easier for you to hold them in place. Bring them close to you to help keep them still while you are brushing their teeth. Never force a dog to stay if they are visibly upset or uncomfortable as this could lead to negative associations with brushing. If your dog starts fidgeting during the above exercises, let them go and try again later. Be careful with how you restrain or hold your dog.
Go for the gum line
Instead of opening your dog’s mouth all the way, lift your dog’s lip and focus on where their teeth meets the gum line. Besides brushing your dog’s front teeth, focus on their back teeth where plaque and tartar build up. Target this area with small, circular motions when brushing your dog’s teeth. Dogs have 42 teeth, so make sure to get them all!
Continue the upkeep
Brushing at least a couple times per week is essential to maintain your dog’s dental health. Dental treats or chews, water additives and dental wipes can be given to supplement care between brushing. These helps reduce plaque build-up but are insufficient to main your dog’s oral health, so you still need a regular brushing routine.
For many dogs, once brushing becomes a part of their daily routine, they will begin to expect and enjoy it. Praising your dog while you are brushing their teeth can go a long way in helping your dog feel comfortable. You could also choose to brush your dog’s teeth after playtime or mealtime when their energy is low.
When brushing, take this opportunity to look for any signs of tooth pain, mouth injuries or general discomfort that could indicate a bigger problem. If your dog shows any sign of pain and discomfort, or if you notice something abnormal such as excessively red or bleeding gums, difficulty or pain when chewing food, and damaged or chipped teeth in your dog’s mouth, get them evaluated by your regular veterinarian.
Dogs eat every day, and just like humans, it would be ideal to brush their teeth after every meal. Once a day is the best recommendation, but if your schedule is tight, aim to brush several times a week for at least 30 seconds per side of their mouth during each session. Smaller sized dogs, as well as breeds with flat or short broad snouts (i.e pugs, bulldogs etc.) often require more frequent brushing as their teeth are more crowded together because of their smaller mouths, thus being more prone to plaque build-up.
Any views or opinions communicated on this page belong to the author and do not represent the views or opinions of any other organizations. This article is meant for us to share our own views and opinions in general. Kindly consult a professional if you would like to seek professional advice.
Adopted from sources
– 5 Steps To Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth (A Complete Guide). By Julie Fritz, Canine Journal.
– How (and How Often) to Brush a Dog’s Teeth. By Petco.