DOG / health & care
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Better Breath is Only One of the Benefits
6 Tips for How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Why Should You Learn How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?
Learning how to brush your dog’s teeth is important for a long list of reasons. It can help your dog’s teeth stay whiter and freshen your dog’s breath. But there are more serious benefits to learning how to brush your dog’s teeth. Eight out of ten dogs end up having dental disease after they turn 3 years old. Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and periodontal disease are common health challenges for many dogs, but are more commonly seen in smaller breeds. They can lead to serious infection, oral pain, bad breath, and tooth loss. The good news is that with the right care, you may be able to slow down or stop the development of dental disease. Why should pet parents care about this? Because when left untreated, dental disease can spread. This can cause infection in your pet’s mouth, blood, or even their vital organs.
Taking the initiative to brush your dog’s teeth can help prevent these kinds of infections from harming your furry friend. Not only this, but it can also have a positive impact on other areas of your dog’s health as well.
What Causes Poor Dental Health in Dogs?
In dogs, gum disease develops similarly to the way it does in humans. Trouble begins when food particles and bacteria cause plaque to form on a dog’s teeth. The plaque sticks to the surface of their teeth and this buildup will eventually harden and turn into tartar; both of which can irritate a dog’s gums and lead to gingivitis (red and inflamed gums).
What Makes Dental Disease so Dangerous?
Gingivitis and, when left untreated, can cause a great deal of harm to a dog. Over time this can progress to deeper infections below the gumline that lead to infection, loose teeth, pain, and eventually tooth loss.
In severe cases, dental disease can lead to other health problems like heart, kidney, liver disease, and even bone decay and fracture of the jaw bones and sinuses. Learning how to brush your dog’s teeth can help prevent some of these serious situations from happening, making it extremely important to their oral and overall health.
How to Tell if Your Dog Might Have Dental Problems:
If you are a pet parent who has not learned how to brush your dog’s teeth before now, then you should check for some of the telltale signs of dental disease in canines. If your dog is showing any of these signs, you should seek the attention of a veterinarian to have your pet examined for a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT).
Signs that your dog may have dental problems include:
- Bad breath
- Discolored teeth
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Difficulty chewing
- Trouble eating
- Weight loss
- Tearing, swelling, or discharge below one eye
- Nasal discharge
- Blood in saliva
- Blood on their toys
- Loose Teeth or tooth loss
How Can You Help Your Dog Have Good Dental Health?
Just as you would take care of your teeth, you should know how to brush your dog’s teeth. Ideally, you would do this at least once every day. This may be surprising to hear as most do not realize just how important it is to learn how to brush your dog’s teeth at all! For some people, once a day is not always possible. In this case, three or more days a week would be the next best option.
With the following tips, you can learn how to brush your dog’s teeth and take care of their dental health moving forward.
1) Use the Right Doggie Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Every dog is different and when they have gone their entire life without having their teeth brushed, then there might be an adjustment period until they get used to it. There are a few different tools that make it easy to learn how to brush your dog’s teeth. What works for one pup might not work for another. The key is to keep trying until you and your dog find something that works for the both of you.
You can brush your dog's teeth with:
- A toothbrush made for dogs
- A soft child’s toothbrush
- A finger toothbrush
- Or gauze/cotton around your finger
Whatever brushing tool you decide on, you need to make sure you are only using toothpaste that is made for dogs -- toothpaste made for humans can be harmful to pets.
Toothpaste designed for dog use can come in a variety of flavors such as beef, chicken, peanut butter, and more!
2) Take Your Time When Training Your Dog
If your dog is not used to having their teeth taken care of, then you might have to train them. You can begin to learn how to brush your dog’s teeth by:
- Start with a small amount of toothpaste on your finger and rub it on the inside of your dog’s cheek while making sure to praise them as they taste it! Doing this will reinforce good behavior and show them that having their teeth brushed is something they can enjoy.
- Once they have gotten used to the taste of the doggy toothpaste, then you can do the same thing with their toothbrush. This will get them used to the feelings and sensations of brushing so that it does not make them feel uncomfortable.
- You should start slow and ease your dog into the new routine by only brushing for a few seconds at a time, eventually building up to a full minute.
- The time it takes to get your dog used to brushing will vary depending on the pet. Remember to be patient with your pup as they learn something new.
Pay special attention to the outer surfaces of the teeth that touch the cheeks, the upper back molars, and the canines.
3) Feed Your Dog a Dental Formula Food
Some brands make dog food designed specifically to improve the dental health of dogs. This type of food may help scrape the bacteria and plaque off your dog’s teeth. If your dog is showing signs of poor dental health, then this kind of food might be a great extra step alongside learning how to brush your dog’s teeth. Remember to always consult with your dog’s veterinarian about changes in their diet.
4) Give Them Dental Toys and Treats
There are also toys and treats on the market that are made specifically for helping take care of your dog’s dental health. Learning how to brush your dog’s teeth is always the best option. So this is a great extra step for maintaining proper dental hygiene alongside brushing. If appropriate for your dog, you should always make sure your dog has plenty of chewable toys and treats available. The reason that this works is that chewing can help scrape away the plaque and tartar off of a tooth’s surface. Other options for supporting your dog’s dental health include water additives, chews, fresh breath sprays and drops as well as other dental solutions.
5) Take Them to A Professional Groomer
If you are comfortable with brushing your dog’s teeth or need help doing so, you could get their teeth brushed by a professional groomer.
6) Consult with a Veterinarian
For skilled opinions about your dog’s dental health, your dog should see a veterinarian. At the end of the day, they are an expert and will teach you how to brush your dog’s teeth the right way. More importantly, they can perform a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment, which should be done annually. If your dog is showing signs of gum disease or infection, then the vet should be your first stop so that you can make an appropriate plan to address your dog’s dental disease, including what home-care options are best for you and your dog.
By following these tips and using the right tools, you can learn how to brush your dog’s teeth in no time.
Click here to shop PetSmart’s selection of dog toothbrushes & toothpaste
Click here to shop PetSmart’s selection of dental dog treats.
Click here to shop PetSmart’s selection of dog chew toys that can improve dental health.