More than 80 percent of dogs 3 years old and older suffer from periodontal disease. Dental problems can make eating painful and cause bleeding and infection.
You should start your dog’s dental routine when she is a puppy. Even if your dog is mature, don’t wait until problems arise.
If your dog is very prone to tartar build up, then brush her teeth daily. Otherwise a weekly brush will keep her mouth healthy.
Use a dog-specific toothbrush, which are smaller and have softer bristles than toothbrushes for people. Dog toothbrushes that fit over your finger are also an option, as are various sponges and pads that clean your dog’s teeth. Alternatively, you can wrap gauze around your finger and rub your dog’s teeth.
Never use your own toothpaste on your dog, as it is too high in salt and fluoride. Your dog will swallow the toothpaste (unless you have a clever dog that is trained to spit, rinse and gargle!), causing an upset stomach. You need to use dog-specific toothpaste, which comes in nice doggie flavors like liver!
- As with any new experience, it may take a little while for you dog to get used to the sensation of having her teeth brushed.
- Start off by not even using a toothbrush, but just touching and stroking her cheeks.
- Progress to gently pulling her lips up and rubbing your finger on her teeth and gums. Remember to reward her with treats and praise for remaining calm while you do this.
- Introduce your dog to her toothbrush by letting her sniff and lick it. Gently rub it around her mouth, and work your way to putting it in her mouth.
- Also get her acquainted with her toothpaste. Dab a little on your finger and let her eat it.
Before brushing, examine your dog’s teeth and gums. Check for any plaque or tartar build up on the teeth, and red or inflamed gums. If this is the case, take your dog to your vet first to have her teeth professionally cleaned with specific dental tools. Otherwise your brushing efforts will be in vain, or in the case of inflamed gums, may cause pain.
It’s really just like brushing your own teeth! Make sure you get to all sides and up the back of the mouth too. Try and make it a fun experience for your dog so she won’t resist your future attempts to brush her teeth. If necessary, just start off with a few teeth at first, and build up to her whole mouth being cleaned. Praise her and reward her with a treat afterwards.
To find a doggie dentist, contact the American Veterinary Dental Society.