Dogs have many of the same basic needs as people, including requiring proper nutrition, plenty of exercise to ensure physical fitness, time outdoors for sun and fresh air, emotional connection, and a good dental health approach to keep their teeth strong.
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to brushing a dog’s teeth, however. Dogs can react poorly to the process, for example., and can even get violent with their owner in extreme cases. Here are some tips for caring for your dog’s teeth, plus facts on why it is so important to ensure good oral hygiene for your pet.
Why Dogs Need Their Teeth Brushed
Humans need to brush their teeth to prevent oral decay, cavities, and bad breath. Experts agree that dogs need their teeth brushed for the same reasons, but even the most responsible pet owners tend to overlook dental care from time to time because it can be quite the ordeal. There are negative effects to being lax about dog’s dental care, though, including:
- Poor oral hygiene can lead to a host of problems, including gum disease from plaque buildup on the molars as well as front teeth.
- Mouth problems can cause your dog to experience very serious health issues.
- These issues can range from whole-body infections to problems with aggression.
Access to a good vet hospital or community can mean the difference between everyone (including your four-legged friends) living happy, healthy lives and potential devastating issues in the form of excisions, digestive issues, and more. By keeping your adult dogs’ teeth healthy and strong, you are providing them with a foundation for good health that can last their whole life.
Problems Often Encountered During Brushing
There are a few problems you might have when trying to brush your dog’s teeth, so it’s important to be aware of common reactions pups have during the process. A few things to watch for include:
- Some dogs might have an aversion to having their mouth’s touched, and could pull or run away.
- There are dogs who don’t like the taste of dog toothpaste or are scared at the sight of the toothbrush.
- You could also deal with aggression when brushing your dog’s teeth.
- A dog can get snappy at different times during the experience, making it traumatic for both the dog and the owner.
The good news is that the process doesn’t have to be completely fraught with fear and issues that create trust problems between you and your favorite pooch. The following tips might make the process easier for both of you.
7 Tips to Help Make Brushing Easier
If you haven’t yet started caring for your dog’s teeth, or are experiencing some problems integrating a dental health plan with your pet, try working these tips into your routine.
1. Ensure comfort before you get started.
Fear and frustration will easily transfer to your pet, and excess energy is your worst nightmare when trying to get your dog to sit still for any type of healthcare service. Make sure your dog is comfortable for the tooth care process by first going for a walk or play session to get out excess energy, then allow him or her time to calm down before beginning the process. Keep your tone and demeanor friendly and soothing throughout to lower stress levels.
2. Try different kinds of pet toothpaste.
You may be tempted to use human toothpaste and toothbrush options when you care for your dog’s teeth, but there is an entire industry built around dog dental treatments. That means there are many different kinds of pet toothpaste on the market in several flavors, including popular ones like peanut butter and beef liver. If your dog’s taste buds don’t respond well to one flavor, try a different one. Make sure to never use human toothpaste as it is not safe for use in pets and could trigger a bad reaction.
3. Work up to brushing your dog’s teeth.
If you approach with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste and your dog reacts poorly, you might have to pause to gain his or her trust. Your dog might be uncomfortable with having his mouth touched, so begin by getting your pet used to having his mouth played with. Here are some tips:
- Make it a point to touch your dog’s teeth and mouth during calm interactions.
- Once that is safe, start rubbing your finger along the gum line and take special care to pull back if your dog reacts poorly.
- You want to break down walls slowly and work up to being able to actually brush his teeth without negative responses.
- This will allow you to remove excess plaque and tartar buildup at home.
Remember, just like with any other step in pet care, it could take a few weeks of handling a dog’s mouth for him or her to let you do so without a negative reaction. It’s important to stay patient: If your dog starts to get anxious or upset during a session, stop and try again later.
4. You have different products to choose from.
If you have gotten your dog comfortable with having his mouth touched, but he still shies away from a toothbrush, you have options. A finger brush is great for dogs who aren’t comfortable with a standard dog toothbrush. These are usually made of soft rubber and slip easily on your finger. You can then apply toothpaste directly to the finger toothbrush and gently massage your dog’s teeth and along the gum line to prevent dental disease.
5. Give your dog dental chews.
Dental chews are a great addition to your dog’s dental care routine. Dental chews can be a valuable part of all optimum wellness plans, helping to reduce plaque and keep your dog’s mouth cavity-free. There are many different products available at pet stores, and they now come in a variety of flavors and textures.
6. Utilize chew toys between brushings.
Chew toys are popular with pet parents for a reason: Not only do they help to stimulate your dog’s play reflexes, but they can aid in your dog’s dental care routine as well. The pet care aisle of your local store features products from different brands, and many chew toys are endorsed by veterinarians and pet health care professionals as the first line of defense against gum disease.
7. Offer your dog lots of praise.
For many dogs, having their teeth brushed is a new experience. It is important to offer your dog a lot of praise throughout the process as they are always happy when you’re happy with them. Make sure to reward your dog as you brush. You can even offer some pet cookies at the end to reinforce your pet’s good behavior.
Ultimately, a dog’s dental care is the responsibility of all owners. Taking care of your dog’s teeth helps to ward off disease, keeping your beloved pet healthy and happy for years to come.
What to Do When Your Dog Won’t Let You Brush
If you simply can’t brush your dog’s teeth, it is time to consult with your veterinarian. They can make an appointment to have your dog’s teeth professionally brushed. Here’s what you need to know:
- The procedure is usually billed as an elective surgery with anesthesia, so it can be more expensive than brushing at home.
- The veterinarian will ask you about your dog’s reactions to brushing, any history with surgery, and offer up necessary medical advice before collecting your billing information.
- The idea might sound scary, but the cost of elective surgery is bound to be less than the cost of correcting any major health issues caused by continuous poor oral hygiene.
- For any questions about the brushing process or ways to prevent gum disease in dogs, contact your local vet office.
Pet care is about more than just dental hygiene, though. If you’re looking for more articles about dogs, sign up for our newsletter today for heart-warming stories, product recommendations, information about local services, pet health tips, and much more.
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