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DOG / health & care

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Better breath is only one of the benefits

Overview

Why brush your dog’s teeth?

Gum disease is a common dog health problem. In fact, 8 out of 10 dogs over the age of three have dental problems. Gum disease can’t be reversed, but with the right care you can slow it down or stop it.

Why should you care? Because if left untreated, dental disease can spread and cause infection in your pet’s mouth, blood and even vital organs.

How do dogs develop dental problems?

Trouble begins when plaque forms from food particles on your dog’s un-brushed teeth. The plaque eventually hardens into tartar; both irritate your pet’s gums. Signs that your dog may have dental problems include:

  • Bad breath
  • Discolored teeth
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Difficulty chewing or eating
  • Weight loss
  • Drooling
  • Tearing or swelling below one eye
  • Nasal discharge
  • Blood in saliva

How do I keep all that from happening?

The same way you keep your own teeth and gums healthy: regular brushing. Ideally you’d brush your dog’s teeth every day. If you can’t manage that, three times a week is good.

  • Use a dog toothbrush, a soft child’s toothbrush, a finger toothbrush, or gauze or cotton around your finger
  • Use toothpaste made for dogs. People toothpaste can harm your pet.
  • Start with just a bit of toothpaste on your finger and rub it on the inside of your dog’s cheek. Praise your dog as he or she licks the paste. Then try the same thing with a toothbrush.
  • Start brushing for a few seconds and build up to a full minute.
  • Pay special attention to the inside tooth surfaces, the upper back molars, and the canines.
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What can I do in addition to brushing?

  • Try a “dental formula” dog food. This type of food may help scrape bacteria and plaque off your dog’s teeth.
  • Make sure your dog always has plenty of chewable toys and treats available. These include bones, rawhide, knobby toys, rope toys and floss toys. This PetSmart dog treat buying guide will steer you right.
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