DOG / new pets
How to Brush Your Puppy’s Teeth
Your puppy needs their teeth taken care of just like you! Just as you would teach a child to brush their teeth to set them up for good dental health in the future, you need to train your puppy to let you brush their choppers. Dental care is an important part of raising your dog that a lot of pet parents don’t consider. If you are training a new puppy, make sure their dental care is a part of their routine. The sooner you start brushing your puppy’s teeth, the more likely they are to get used to it and let you do it in the future (pet parents should wait until their pup has all of their adult teeth before using a toothbrush on their pet. It is usually safe to start brushing after they are at least 6 months old).
The Importance of Doggy Dental Health From the Start
Making sure you establish a good dental routine when your dog is a puppy (after their adult teeth come in) is important for a number of reasons:
It Establishes a Habit
When a dog has gone their whole life without having their teeth brushed, it’s going to seem really strange to them that you are sticking something in their mouth and trying to scrub their teeth. Not only this, but if a dog hasn’t had their teeth cleaned, then they might have some sensitivity in their mouth that doesn’t feel good when brushed. Establishing a brushing routine when they are young creates a habit that they are used to and will likely let you do in the future with fewer issues.
It Prevents Dental Disease
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, the only way to remove it is with mechanical cleaning. Brushing their teeth from the moment you are able to can make dental disease less likely to occur in the future.
What Happens When You Don’t Care for Your Puppy's Teeth?
When you do not brush your dog's teeth it can lead to dangerous mouth conditions like gingivitis (a common form of gum disease that causes irritation, redness and swelling). When left untreated, dental disease can get worse and create a lot of issues for our pups like infections, tooth loss and more. While this doesn’t happen to every dog, it’s much more likely when your pup has a poor dental hygiene routine.
If your pup is showing signs of dental decay or disease, then they need to see a vet as soon as possible. Signs of dental problems include:
- Bad Breath
- Discolored Teeth
- Red or Swollen Gums
- Bleeding Gums
- Difficulty Chewing
- Trouble Eating
- Weight Loss
- Tearing, Swelling, or Discharge Below the Eye
- Nasal Discharge
- Blood in Saliva
- Blood on Toys
- Loose Teeth/Tooth Loss
Tips for Brushing Puppy Teeth and Preventing Dental Problems
1. Take Your Time
Just like potty training a puppy can take time, so can training them to have their teeth brushed. Pet parents should always remember to take their time when brushing their puppy’s teeth and remember that you both are learning at the same time. You can start by putting a small amount of dog toothpaste on your finger and rubbing it on their gums. This gets them used to the flavor of the paste, which comes in chicken, beef and other yummy tastes. Once they have become accustomed to the taste, parents can start to put the toothbrush in their mouth, getting them used to the sensation of brushing. Remember to give them tons of praise as they try something new and unfamiliar so that they know it’s a positive experience that they can enjoy.
2. Use Products Designed for Dogs
Human dental products are not safe to use on dogs and can be harmful to them. Remember to use dog-specific products to make sure you are keeping them safe. This might include toothbrushes made for dogs or dog toothpaste.
3. Give Them Good Stuff to Chew On
Puppies often love to chew, which can be a great thing for their dental health. Chewing can scrape unwanted plaque and tartar off of a pup’s teeth and help keep them clean. Pet parents can use dental treats, dental toys and more to give their pup a healthy outlet for chewing that will also support their dental health.
4. Vitamins and Supplements
Adding a vitamin or supplement to your pet’s diet can also support their dental health. While they won’t prevent dental disease, there are vitamins/supplements for bone support. Talk to your vet before making changes to your pup’s diet to make sure you are doing what is best for them. They will let you know if there are supplements or other dental products that can help.
5. 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.
6. Use a Grooming Service
Pet parents should remember that keeping their dog healthy and safe is the number one priority. If you are having a hard time brushing your puppy’s teeth at home, then you might consider using a professional grooming service that can do it for you. PetSmart offers a grooming service where pet parents can either schedule an appointment, or get their pet groomed on a walk-in basis. This way, you know your puppy's teeth are clean and healthy without all of the hassles.
Puppies are adorable and worth all of the effort that goes into their routine. There are plenty of puppy dental products and services that can help you give your dog the best care.
Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.