As a human, chances are, you brush your teeth every day (at least we hope so!). And for good reason! Taking care of your oral health is part of taking care of your overall health. A solid oral hygiene routine can help ward off a host of health issues in the future, including gum disease, periodontitis, and immune issues.
Clearly, brushing your teeth is important—but what about your dog’s? Is it necessary to brush your dog’s teeth every day?
Why Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth Is Important
So, first things first—is it actually necessary to brush your dog’s teeth every day?
And if you want to take the best care of your dog—and keep him healthy as long as possible—the answer is absolutely yes.
There are a number of reasons you should be brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis, including:
Daily Brushing Can Prevent Serious Infections
Just like humans, plaque and tartar builds up on dog’s teeth. That built up can lead to periodontal disease—a chronic infection that, if left untreated, can lead to heart, kidney, and liver issues with your pup.
Daily brushings help remove the build up on your dog’s chompers. And when you remove that build up every day, after every meal, your dog is far more likely to avoid periodontal disease—and all the serious health issues that come along with it.
In a nutshell, daily brushings = healthy teeth and gums = healthy dog.
If You Brush Regularly, Your Dog May Not Need A Professional Cleaning
Your dog needs healthy teeth and gums—and if you don’t take care of your dog’s teeth and gums with daily brushing, eventually you’re going to have to take them to the vet for a regular cleaning.
Having your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned carries a lot more risk factors than a human risk to the dentist—and that’s because of the anesthesia.
Dogs have to be put under for professional dental cleanings (otherwise, they’d be tempted to bite the vet!). And, just like with humans, there are inherent risks in going under anesthesia. If you can avoid putting your dog under, you should—and you can avoid putting him under for dental reasons if you brush his teeth every day.
Not Brushing Can Be Painful For Your Pup
Perhaps the most simple and straightforward reason for brushing your dog’s teeth every day? Regular brushings will make your dog’s mouth a happy, comfortable place.
Without regular brushing, all that plaque and tartar build up can lead to inflamed gums, tooth sensitivity, and abscessed teeth—all of which can be extremely painful for your pup. By taking a few minutes to brush your dog’s teeth every day, you can help him avoid all these oral health issues—and the pain that goes alongside them.
How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Clearly, brushing your dog’s teeth every day is an important part of being a responsible puppy parent. But how, exactly, do you do that—without getting your finger chomped in the process?
Invest In The Right Products
You might be tempted to raid your own cabinets for dog tooth brushing supplies, but don’t! Human toothbrushes aren’t the right size or shape for dogs—and human toothpaste is full of ingredients that could be toxic for your pup.
Before you brush your dog’s teeth, you need to invest in the right products—oral hygiene products specifically formulated for dogs.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
First things first—you need toothpaste to clean your dog’s teeth. And while “minty fresh” might be your toothpaste flavor of choice, dog toothpaste typically comes in more dog-friendly flavors, like meat or peanut butter.
Here are a few dog toothpaste options to get your pup’s chompers sparkling:
A good toothbrush is also essential. When it comes to dog toothbrushes, you have two main options: a finger toothbrush or a longer toothbrush.
Finger toothbrushes (like the Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dog Finger Brush) work great for smaller dogs; they allow you to get in there and scrub even the most hard-to-reach chompers. For larger dogs—and larger mouths—and toothbrush with a longer handle typically works best. Look for a toothbrush with both a larger and smaller end (like the Vetoquinol Enzadent Dual-Ended Toothbrush) to polish teeth of all sizes.
Prep Your Pup
Once you’ve got all your supplies, it’s time to get your dog ready to have his teeth brushed. And the key to that? Getting him used to having his teeth and gums touched.
Sit down next to your dog and slowly rub your fingers along his teeth and gums. Don’t use too much pressure. The point is to get him comfortable having you touch in and around his mouth.
He might resist, and that’s ok—it may take some practice before your pup is totally comfortable with you touching his chompers. But once he is, you can move on to the actual brushing process.
Get Your Brush On!
Once your pup is comfortable with having you touch his teeth and gums, it’s time to start brushing!
Brushing your dog’s teeth is, in many ways, similar to brushing a human’s teeth. Lift your dog’s upper lift and angle the brush so it reachers his gums. Brush gently, using circular motions, to remove built up plaque and tartar. Make sure to spend time brushing each tooth and the gum line on the top and bottom of your dog’s mouth.
General Tips For A Successful Brushing Experience
Brushing your dog’s teeth is pretty straightforward (and not too different from brushing your own teeth!). But here are a few tips to make the brushing process successful for you and your pup:
- Brush at the right time. The best time to brush your dog’s teeth is when he’s calm and relaxed. If you notice your dog is anxious, let him calm down before attempting to brush.
- Experiment with different toothpaste flavors. If your dog is resistant to having his teeth brushed, it could be because of the toothpaste. Experiment with different flavors until you find one your dog loves. The more he likes the flavor, the more likely he’ll be to let you brush his teeth without a hassle.
- Be patient. If your dog isn’t used to having his teeth brushed, it may take him a little while to get used to the process. And that’s ok! Be patient and give him plenty of love and reassurance. Eventually, he’ll get more comfortable with the whole toothbrush and toothpaste thing—and brushing will become infinitely easier.
Good oral hygiene doesn’t stop at brushing! Dental chews (like the Peanut Butter Benebone or the Benebone Bacon Dental Chew) are a great way to keep your dog’s chompers strong and healthy in between brushings.
Featured image via Eyesplash/Flickr