Have you wondered if you should be brushing your dog’s teeth, and if I do will his breath get better? Yes and yes. Dog’s need their teeth brushed just like humans do. Wouldn’t it be great if our dog could just brush their own teeth, but unfortunately they can’t. So we as dog owners have to help them out.
Depending on how old you are, you might think we never brushed my dog’s teeth when I was growing up, and he seemed just fine. The same is said about humans. Long ago people didn’t brush their teeth either. A lot has changed since then. People and dogs are living longer because of medical advances that keep us healthier and brushing teeth is just one of those changes that help people and dogs live longer.
When I was growing up, my grandparents seemed very old, as do all adults for kids, but in reality, they were just in their 60’s. Not very old by today’s standards. I don’t ever remember any of my grandparents having their actual teeth. All of them had false teeth, which is pretty unheard-of now at that age. It is largely attributed to how we care for our teeth now. So don’t think because you never brushed your childhood dog’s teeth, that is the same path to continue following.
Besides the bill I get from visiting the vet, there are two things I hate about going there. They are usually telling me my dog is overweight and next they are telling me that my dog needs his teeth cleaned. Both of those make me feel like a failure as a dog owner. You can get ahead of those comments by starting to brush your dog’s teeth now.
I am going to discuss how to clean a dog’s teeth and also treats that clean dog’s teeth to help make it easier for you to care for your dog.
Why Is It Important To Clean Your Dog’s Teeth And When To Do It
Dental disease is the number 1 health issue in dogs. If your dog’s teeth aren’t cared for, the bad bacteria can affect the rest of your dog’s body by seeping into the bloodstream. This can lead to life-threatening infections and issues including heart, liver and kidney disease.
If possible, start brushing your dog’s teeth when they are young to make it easier. You should start cleaning a puppies’ teeth between 8-16 weeks old.
Choose a time after your dog has been exercised, so they are more likely to be calm and sit still better.
8 Easy Steps For Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth
- Use a specially designed dog toothbrush.
- Never use human toothpaste.
- Give your dog a small sample of the toothpaste to introduce the taste.
- Lift the lip to expose the outside surfaces of your dog’s gums and teeth.
- Brush with gentle motions to clean the teeth and gums, the same way you do your own. Brush at a 45 degree angle to clean below the gumline.
- Clean the outside surfaces of your dog’s teeth, most dogs won’t allow you to brush the inside surface of their teeth.
- Be sure to clean the back molars, as these generally will get the most tartar build-up.
- Reward your dog with play, treat, or a favorite activity to positively reinforce brushing their teeth.
That is it. Not much really to it.
There are a few other factors that you should take into account when cleaning your dog’s teeth.
Use a dog toothbrush with soft bristles. If you don’t have a dog toothbrush, you can also use a child’s toothbrush, a finger toothbrush, gauze wrapped around your finger or a cotton swab.
Use dog toothpaste. It is generally flavored with poultry or malt flavors. Never use human toothpaste, baking soda or salt. These could all be harmful to your dog if swallowed. Also, human toothpaste usually has fluoride, which is extremely poisonous to dogs.
You might have to work into getting all of your dog’s teeth cleaned and that is OK. Start slow and maybe you only get a few teeth done the first few times of cleaning, and gradually work up to longer sessions until you can do all of their teeth. It also helps to talk calmly to them so it is a pleasant time for them and don’t forget the reward after you are done
What To Look For On Your Dogs Gums And Teeth And If They Might Have A Problem
Healthy gums are pink, firm and there is no evidence of gum recession. Unhealthy gums are reddened and bleed easily when chewing on toys. If you think your dog has a problem, don’t start brushing their teeth until you have a vet look your dog’s teeth over. You could cause them more damage and problems if you start brushing their teeth by spreading the bacteria into their blood stream if their gums are already bleeding.
Signs Your Dog Might Be Having Problems With His Teeth
- Being head shy. When you go to pet your dog’s head or face they shy away from you.
- Lip smacking.
- Drooling excessively. This usually happens for a day or two if they break a tooth.
- Not wanting to chew on bones or toys.
- Change in eating habits.
All can be warning signals that dental disease is present and causing pain. Dogs are instinctively protective of hiding pain, because the weakest in the pack is least likely to survive. You need to be a detective with them to watch for signs.
Common Brushing Mistakes To Avoid
Don’t try to open your dog’s mouth. As soon as you open their mouth, they will start to struggle. Keep their mouth closed and gently lift their lips only.
Don’t scrub your dog’s teeth. Just like yours, your dog’s teeth and gums can be damaged if you brush too hard.
What To Do If Your Dog Won’t Let You Brush
If you can’t brush your dog’s teeth because they won’t let you, check with your vet if your dog needs a “dental diet.” Vets will recommend you look for products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), which researches manufacturer claims for dental, health foods, chews and rinses. VOHC is the pet version of the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval on oral health products.
You can find a list of VOHC approved chews and toys at www.vohc.org.
Dry dog food is better than soft dog food for keeping your dog’s teeth healthy and clean. Crunchy kibble is the best, while soft food is more likely to stick to the teeth and cause decay.
I recommend Enzadent Enzymatic Poultry Flavored Toothpaste. It is a non foaming toothpaste and does not need to be rinsed out and can be swallowed.
I recommend DentaMed Dual Toothbrush. It has soft bristles, angled heads, long handle for extra reach, 2 different head sizes – one at each end, and it is specially designed for pets.
Chew Bones also help remove tartar and plaque. The synthetic bones are designed to strengthen your dog’s gums and teeth, help get rid of build up on teeth and keep their teeth strong. I recommend the following two for helping your dog have cleaner teeth.
Fido Texas T-bone Dental – it has long-lasting beef flavor, soft and flexible for average chewers, older dogs and puppies, easy to hold and grip, and helps fight tartar and plaque and reduces bad breath.
Pedigree Dentastix – comes in several flavors and sizes. Chewy texture and patented design is clinically proven to reduce plaque and tartar buildup, helps clean between teeth and down to the gumline and freshens breath.
Your vet should be checking your dog’s teeth whenever they go in for a normal checkup, but if they don’t, ask them to include this. There shouldn’t be any extra charge.
Brushing or cleaning your dog’s teeth has many benefits for your dog, but also for you. Better breath and a healthy dog are all great positives in my book.
If you do have to have your dog’s teeth cleaned by your vet, expect a hefty bill for it. It will require them to be given anesthesia and they will spend at least 4 hours at the vet’s office if not more.
Average cost of dog teeth cleaning:
$200-$300 on young dogs
$325-$425 on senior dogs
Could go up to $700 for deep cleaning and extractions. I believe brushing your dog’s teeth at home will be a lot less painful than having to pay this bill every few years.
Please leave any questions or comments below and I will get back with you.