Brushing your dog’s teeth helps remove plaque, which causes tooth decay. This is the single most effective way to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy. Not sure how often to brush your dog’s teeth? Uncertain of how to handle your pup’s finicky behavior? This complete guide to brushing your dog’s teeth should help.
How Often to Brush a Dog’s Teeth
Ideally, you should brush your pet’s teeth for two minutes every day, but even brief sessions three times a week are better than nothing. Start with just the outsides of the canine and back teeth where plaque is most prominent. Eventually, you should work your way up to brushing your dog’s entire mouth.
To make it happen, you’ll need a special dog toothbrush with soft bristles and a long handle. A finger brush is effective for small dogs. Use canine toothpaste as well, which comes in dog-approved flavors like peanut butter and chicken.
How to Spot Problems with Your Dog’s Teeth
Just like humans, your dog’s mouth is susceptible to plaque buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay. These problems can lead to painful infections. If left untreated, infections can spread and cause potentially life-threatening conditions. Learn how to spot problems with your dog’s teeth so you can stop them in their tracks:
- Bad breath
- Red, inflamed gums
- Blood on a chew toy
- Loose teeth
- Difficulty picking up food or eating
- Preferring not to have their head touched
Tips for Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Most animals aren’t fond of having their teeth brushed. Follow these tips for the best results, even if you have a finicky dog:
- Choose a comfortable place and time: Approach your pup only when she’s calm and relaxed. The goal is to make tooth brushing a regular part of your routine. When preparing to brush your dog’s teeth, kneel or sit in front of her. Don’t assume a threatening stance or hold her down. If the animal seems stressed, stop and try again later.
- Get your dog used to the idea: Before you break out the toothbrush, test your dog’s willingness to have her teeth brushed. Rub your finger along the gums and teeth to check for any tender spots and get your dog used to having something touch her gums. Repeat this for several sessions. Then, let her taste the toothpaste. If she’s not interested, try a different flavor.
- Time to brush: Lift your dog’s upper lip and brush the front side of her teeth at a 45-degree angle along the gum line. If your pup will allow you to brush the inside surfaces of her teeth, great! If not, don’t stress too much – her rough tongue helps to keep these surfaces clean.
- Beware of bleeding: Slight bleeding may occur. If the gums bleed heavily, be gentler with the toothbrush. If the bleeding continues, talk to your vet about the possibility of gum disease.
Visit Germantown Vet Clinic for Veterinary Dentistry
Your pet’s dental care doesn’t end at home. Bring your dog to Germantown Vet for professional veterinary dentistry services, including cleanings and X-rays. The next time you come in for other services, we’ll offer a complimentary dental exam to determine if your pet is due for a cleaning.
For more pet care tips, or to schedule an appointment, call Germantown Vet at 240-252-7467.