Brush Your Dog's Teeth Regularly to Prevent Possible Canine Health Problems! Tips to Make Brushing Easy and Fun!

Taking care of your teeth is very important. If you are anything like me…then you probably brush first thing in the morning and before you go to bed at night. You may even be one of those people I see at work who sneak off to the bathroom to brush after lunch. If so, good for you! Though you take good care of your pearly whites…have you thought about the condition of your dog's teeth? Do you brush them? Do you take your pup to the veterinarian for regular dental check-ups? It is very important to be proactive when it comes to your dog's dental care. After all, preventing problems is the key…and a great way to save money down the road!

Believe it or not, having your dog's teeth professionally cleaned periodically is only part of the game plan. There are many things you can do to ensure that your dog's teeth and mouth stay clean and healthy! Yes, brushing your dog's teeth (especially if you have a large dog) can be quite intimidating. However, once you get the hang of it (and your dog is familiar with the process) it will become second nature (to both you and your furry friend).

Go to the Vet!

If you have not been pro-active when it comes to caring for your dog's dental care, don't worry!  The first thing you should do is make an appointment with the vet so that a complete oral healthcare evaluation can be performed. A quick preliminary assessment can be done while your pet is awake, however, in order for a complete evaluation to be done your dog will need to be put under general anesthesia. So what exactly will the veterinarian do during your dog's oral evaluation? Well, first of all, a complete examination of your dog's teeth and gums will be conducted. The veterinarian will chart, clean, polish and take dental x-rays.  He or she will also perform a complete and thorough examination of your pup's oral tissues and teeth (too make sure there are no infections, cracks, etc).  Once your dog has had his or her professional exam (and is given the "all clear" by the veterinarian) it is now YOUR TURN to take charge! Again, it is very important your vet give you the "all clear" before brushing your dog's teeth. If your dog has painful gums or other issues, brushing can be quite uncomfortable therefore making dental care a bad experience (one which your pup will not be happy to repeat). Wait until all dental problems have been resolved BEFORE beginning an at home brushing routine.

Only use toothpaste designed for dogs! Human toothpaste can make dog's sick!
Only use toothpaste designed for dogs! Human toothpaste can make dog's sick!

Time to Brush!

So…you are ready to brush your pet's teeth. Good for you! Below are a few tips that just might make the experience a good one…for both you and your pup!

  • Make sure you brush your dog's teeth when you have plenty of time as you do not want to rush. If you are late for work or an appointment, choose another time. If you try to rush through the process, your dog WILL notice and feed off of your tension. Choose a time when you can relax and concentrate on the task at hand. You want to be completely calm and focused! A RELAXED dog is one of the keys to brushing success!
  • Obviously, you will use a toothpaste that is specifically formulated for dogs. DO NOT USE toothpaste designed for humans as it can make them sick! Believe it or not, there are several flavors available that are sold just for canines (beef anyone!?). Allow your dog to lick some toothpaste off of your finger so that he is familiar with its taste and smell.

  • If your dog is intimidated by the toothbrush, then put a small amount of canine toothpaste on your finger and gently (and slowly) put your finger into your dog's mouth under his lower (or upper) lip. There is no need to pry your dog's mouth open….you don't even need to see any teeth (do this by feel alone). Gently massage your dog's gums for five to ten seconds. After you are done, remove your finger and praise your pup until the cows come home! If your dog resists or becomes upset, remove your finger…and DO NOT praise! After a few minutes, try again. Once your dog is comfortable with you massaging his gums with your finger you can eventually graduate to a toothbrush. You may have to use your finger for several weeks.  Don't rush your dog as you want the brushing process to be an enjoyable one! Please note that just like toothpaste, there are special canine toothbrushes available as well.

Puppies like to play...NOT brush! Get advice from your vet BEFORE brushing your young dog's teeth!
Puppies like to play...NOT brush! Get advice from your vet BEFORE brushing your young dog's teeth!

Caring for your dog's teeth should become part of your regular "pet care" routine. Dogs that do not receive proper oral care often develop painful infections which can lead to bigger and more expensive problems! Did you know that oral infections can also play a role in heart, kidney, liver and lung disease!? So be proactive when it comes to your dog's pearly whites. After all, he deserves a healthy, white smile too!

For some wonderful dog treat recipes that you can make at home, please visit Bunny Roo Beagle!

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AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for the good advice. Getting his teeth brushed is not my dog's favorite activity but at least he lets me do it!

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