Taking Care of Your Dog’s Teeth
Pet dogs become an integral part of our lives. Many people consider their dogs to be loyal members of the family. But as with any other member of the family, they need to be looked after. You supply them with whatever they need — a place to sleep, proper food to eat, loving attention, and medical care when necessary. So, what about taking care of their teeth?
Much like humans, dogs have a multitude of bacteria that try to take hold in their mouths. If they occasionally get food stuck in their teeth, like we humans do, it provides a food source for the bacteria as well. Things like this can lead to bad breath or tooth decay for your four-legged friend. Sadly, they can’t hold a toothbrush very well, so they need help keeping their teeth clean.
So, how do you maintain the oral hygiene of your dog? The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, has plenty of helpful tips about Doggie Dental Care on their website, but we’ll list a few of their points here for convenience.
Start at the Beginning
With a new puppy, it’s a good idea to get them used to having their teeth brushed. Start with a few moments a day, putting your finger on your puppy’s teeth and gums, accompanied with positive reinforcement and followed up with a treat. Do it gently – if your puppy gets annoyed or aggravated, you’re likely using too much force.
Once they’re accustomed to the sensation, purchase some dog toothpaste and a dog toothbrush from your local pet store. Do not use human toothpastes or toothbrushes as they are not designed for pets. Find a toothpaste with a flavor that your dog likes – this might take several attempts. Place a little amount on your finger and gently rub it onto their teeth and gums, monitoring their reaction. Remember to keep it relaxed and fun, no anxiety or force. Once they’re used to the toothpaste, begin attempts with a toothbrush as well.
Beyond the Beginning
What if your dog is an adolescent or adult? Well, they can still learn to let you use a toothbrush and toothpaste on their teeth, but it will take much more time and patience on your part. In this case, start by finding a toothpaste that your dog likes, letting him lick it from your finger. Then, let your dog lick the toothpaste off the dog toothbrush, so he becomes accustomed to the tool. Spend short but regular sessions rubbing your dog’s teeth and gums with some of the dog toothpaste on your finger, then attempt it with the toothbrush. Make sure to give your dog lots of praise and positive reinforcement as you proceed. They might never grow to love getting their teeth brushed, but they can eventually learn to tolerate it. And that’s enough to improve you dog’s breath and oral health.
There are other things you can do to improve and maintain the oral health of your dog. For instance, feeding them hard food they crunch as opposed to soft food helps keep their teeth clean — just like chewing on celery and crunchy fruits and nuts help human teeth.
Of course, your best action is to discuss these issues with your dog’s veterinarian. In fact, there are now vets that specialize in veterinary dental services, and getting their input is a great idea — they typically offer professional cleaning services and extractions for diseased teeth.
If You Care for Your Dog, Care for Yourself
The Placerville Dental Group recognizes importance of our patient’s pets, and their health, and we recommend your dog’s teeth get the same level of attention that you give yours. If you have further questions about canine oral health, or would like to set a good example for your canine as a positive role model, schedule a routine checkup with the Placerville Dental Group by calling us or filling out our online form.
NOTE: health regulations require that dogs and other pets are not allowed to visit the Placerville Dental Group, with the strict exception of guide dogs or service animals helping our clients. As much as we would like to get to know your pets, meeting all applicable health laws are much higher concerns.