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DOG / health & care

Dental Health for Puppies

It’s never too early to start

Overview

Dental care for puppies

Here’s a statistic that may not make you smile: 80 percent of dogs show signs of gum disease by the time they’re two years old. The best cure for dental problems is prevention. Once plaque has formed on the teeth, they only way to remove it is with mechanical cleaning.

You can help your dog by beginning dental maintenance early, but to keep it a pleasant experience, wait until your pup has all his adult teeth (at or around 6 months) before using a toothbrush. Here are a few things you can do to help keep those teeth healthy:

  • Begin brushing. Brushing is an experience your pup will likely have to get used to. Though it’s never too late to start brushing your dog’s teeth, it’s helpful to begin as soon as possible. Start by gently rubbing your puppy’s gums with your finger. Ease into it by massaging their gums regularly while you’re snuggling them. You can then use a soft rubber brush that fits on your fingertip. Load it up specially formulated toothpaste for dogs (never use human toothpaste) which comes in flavors like beef, chicken and banana mint. Once you pup has adult teeth, try a weekly tooth brushing regimen and work your way up to 3-4 times per week. Check out this video for more information or ask your vet for a demonstration.
  • Provide chew toys. Teething is a fact of life in puppy parenting. A supply of specially designed puppy toys (and patience) will come in handy as you manage it. Mildly abrasive foods and toys help keep teeth clean. Pet parents should focus on products that are accepted to control plaque over those that just have a tartar claim (visit www.vohc.org for products with valid research to back their claims). However, with puppies avoid natural bones, antler dried cow hooves, hard nylon toys and large rawhide toys, as these are hard enough to fracture teeth.
  • Schedule check-ups. Dogs should go to the vet for a dental exam twice a year and may need their teeth cleaned annually. If your little furball’s breath is extra-stinky lately, give the vet a call. Bad breath can be a sign of dental problems or gum disease.
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Important Reminder: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace the medical advice or care from your veterinarian.