Not everyone is lucky enough to have a dog who loves having their teeth brushed.
Many dogs are extremely uncomfortable having their teeth brushed and will run away when they see you take out the brush or refuse to allow you access into their mouth. But no matter how uncomfortable it is for the both of you, your dog’s teeth are arguably one of the most important parts of their body and practicing good doggy dental care really important.
Optimal oral hygiene and dental care not only keeps your dog’s breath smelling fresh, it can prevent a host of serious illnesses (many of them outside the mouth) and save your dog, and yourself, from expensive and potentially painful dental interventions. Because dental care is so important, it is best to get your dog used to having their teeth cleaned as early as possible.
With smaller dogs like Chi, you can usually open their mouth and brush, regardless of how enthusiastic they are about the process. But with a big dog, one who is more capable of resisting, it won’t be so simple. For that reason, socialization and early training are key to keeping your dog’s teeth healthy and clean throughout their lives. No matter your dog’s size, brushing their teeth will be much more enjoyable for the both of you if your dog are relaxed.
The first step is choosing a toothpaste and toothbrush.
Human toothpaste won’t work and can even be harmful for your dog if they end up swallowing some (and they will- dogs don’t swish and spit!) While there are plenty of dog toothpastes on the market, your best bet is to find one that is enzymatic. These enzymes will continue to clean your dog’s teeth even after you’ve finished brushing. I also suggest getting a meat or poultry flavored toothpaste. While you and I may prefer mint, dogs are much more likely to cooperate if their toothpaste tastes like something they enjoy.
You can really begin getting your dog used to having their teeth brushed from day one. From the very day you bring your up home, you should begin sticking your fingers in their mouth and running your fingers against their teeth and gums. This will get them used to having something in their mouth. Then, introduce the toothbrush as soon as you can. In the beginning, it is best to keep the cleaning sessions short. If your dog feels overwhelmed, they are likely to flee the next time they see you coming at them with the toothbrush.
Having a structured dental care routine will help your dog immensely but it is also important to schedule yearly teeth cleanings and oral exams for your pup.
Just like us, dogs will need teeth cleanings from professionals. This is a service your vet can provide. Doggy dentists do exist and, if you have one near you, I’d recommend scheduling a visit, but they aren’t as common as standard veterinarians. Chi recently turned three which means it is time to schedule his first of what will be yearly teeth cleanings. I am taking him to a new doggy dentist and will update you all about our experience with them!
To avoid struggling with your pup and giving them unneeded emotional distress, many products exist that can be used to help keep your pups mouth clean without brushing. None of these are as good as regular brushing but many are the next best thing.
Water additives, which you simply add to their daily drinking water, are a good start for stubborn dogs as all will happily drink water.
I use Bohdi Dog’s all-natural doggie dental water additive and that’s what I recommend most to other dog owners- it works well and dogs don’t seem to notice or mind the taste. You can also invest in a few “dental toys” for your pup, which will help keep their teeth clean while they have fun! You can get your dog a dental chew toy or a flossy rope for playtime. These products are great even if your dog does let you brush their teeth as it just serves as an extra method of keeping their teeth and gums clean.
Remember, taking care of your dog’s teeth isn’t just to keep their breath fresh. Dental hygiene at home coupled with regular veterinary visits to check on the status of your pups pearly whites will help keep them healthy and happy as well as protect you from having to tackle difficult dental issues later on!
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