How to brush a dog's teeth

Dry dog food helps keep teeth healthy

Good oral hygiene can be easily accomplished!

When I had my 7 year old Rottweiler seen for her routine wellness exam my veterinarian found some signs of dental decay. "Tartar and an extraction is what is needed for this old gal" was her diagnosis. As I scheduled an appointment, I imagined my dear Rottie on the surgery table being intubated and with all sorts of needles puncturing her skin. At that point, I really regretted not taking proper care of her teeth.

When going in for a dental cleaning and extractions, dogs will necessitate anesthesia. We all would love it if our dogs could simply lay down on the examination table with their mouths wide open and say "AHHHH". Unfortunately, dogs will not sit still and be collaborative so having all those sharp instruments put in their mouths could turn potentially dangerous for both the operating veterinarian, the staff and of course, the dog.

A good dental plan should start when a dog is a puppy. If a puppy gets used to having his teeth touched and brushed then dental care will be a breeze. However, it seems like this is unlikely to happen in most cases. I have experienced this first hand. Working at an animal hospital we used to issue a nice puppy kit to new puppy owners. The package included some toys, potty training booklets, dental chews and a small toothbrush. Once called in for their appointment most owners would take the whole kit and leave the tooth brush behind.

Many dog owners may feel that brushing their dog's teeth may be unnecessary, futile or simply a boring routine. However, those that start a good cleaning plan and keep it up will be prized when their dogs come out from the vet's office with a clean bill of health.

Dogs with poor teeth are very likely to suffer from poor health. Not many people know that bacteria coming from teeth affected by periodontal disease or abscesses can potentially cause heart or kidney disease.

Now that we are aware of all the benefits associated with a good dental care program for your dog comes the time to switch to the practical part: learning how to brush a dog's teeth.

Here are some simple steps to get your dog accustomed to the toothbrush:

1) Arm yourself with some gauze. Place the gauze on your finger and start rubbing the gums and teeth mimicking a toothbrush motion. Do this for about a week or until your dog seems to accept the procedure. If you prefer not to use the gauze, your simple finger tip is sufficient.

2)Upgrade to a small toothbrush and brush with some flavored toothpaste designated for dogs. Because this toothpaste is tasty your dog should readily accept it or even ask for more!

3)Try next to reach with the tooth brush those hard to reach spots with a circling motion. If your dog is fine, praise with a great dental chew!

There are several other things that can be done to help your dog grow healthy, strong teeth. Here are some tips:

-Avoid canned or moist foods. Dogs need crunchy hard food to keep their teeth in top shape. After all, dogs were born to be eat bones from dead carcasses

-Offer some dental treats. Pet stores have a good variety of dental chews veterinarian recommended

-Offer plenty of chew toys that rub on your dog's gums and help get rid of food remains

-Brush your dog's teeth daily. It only takes about 36 hours for plaque to mineralize and harden into tartar.

-Examine your dog's mouth routinely and look for signs of decay

-Have your dog seen if he should exhibit trouble eating, trouble drinking cold water, trouble chewing on toys, dropping food and salivation.

Brushing a dog's teeth is a good plan that should be incorporated with good grooming habits, exercise and healthy food. I wish I would have started dental care sooner, but I learned my lesson. After her dental cleaning, I was able to start brushing her teeth with a tasty C.E.T. toothpaste. Better later than ever!

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mistyhorizon2003 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Excellent advice. My Mum's Greyhound has had so many problems with her teeth over the years that she now only has her 4 main Canines left, all the rest have had to be removed. Mum took her on as an adult dog, and she already had dental problems then. In spite of cleaning them as best she could, Mum was always fighting a losing battle as it was too little too late. Numerous dentals at the vets later, and Lady (the Greyhound), has kidney problems caused by her bad teeth in the past. Sadly she is a very old dog now, and probably hasn't got many more months to go, and she still has terrible breath and problem teeth, but the vet can't risk removing any more of them in case it causes her jaw to collapse. This means she regularly has to have antibiotic courses, as her gums get so inflamed. It is so true that prevention is better than cure, and the earlier in life you start a teeth cleaning routine for your dog the better.

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