How Important is Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth?
How many times have you said to your dog “Whew! You have bad doggie breath!” Maybe your dog seems to have bad breath all the time. In this respect, dogs aren’t a lot different than humans, they need their teeth brushed on a regular basis…a task that many dog owners ignore or don’t understand the importance of keeping their canine’s teeth clean.
Luckily, dog’s don’t get cavities as easily and often as humans do, but brushing their teeth isn’t just about cavities or bad breath, it’s also about their overall health. When their oral hygiene is neglected, not only can there be plaque buildup and gingivitis, but there are other problems that can stem from poor dental care such as kidney disease, heart and liver problems and infections that can actually threaten their life.
Prepare your pup for the tooth brushing routine…
As in most things, it’s best to start your dog’s dental hygiene routine when they are puppies, but if your dog is grown and you haven’t been brushing, it’s never too late to start. In fact, don’t put it off.
Your dog may not particularly care for you touching his mouth and teeth, so start slowly, talk gently and choose a consistent time of day, preferably when your dog is feeling a little bit tired and somewhat relaxed (after play or exercise is great). Begin by gently touching their mouth, their teeth and their gums to see how they react. Above all, stay patient, and if your dog is resisting, only try for a few seconds and then stop. Give your dog a treat so he begins to associate this process with something he likes. Then try again the next day. Your dog will soon allow you to touch him comfortably and then you can move on to introducing him to the toothbrush.
Using the proper tools for the job…
Although you can use toothbrushes meant for humans, it is better to buy a canine toothbrush that is specifically intended for your pooch.
As for the toothpaste you use, DO NOT use toothpaste intended for humans…most brands contain fluoride which is poisonous for the canine population. There are toothpastes that are formulated for dogs, many of which are flavored to encourage the dog to allow you to brush his teeth. In fact, when your dog is new to the process, put a little of the paste on you finger and let him sniff it and lick it off. (That’s also a good indicator of whether or not he likes the flavor.)
How often should you brush?
Ideally you would brush Fido’s teeth daily, but that’s not always possible, so do it as often as possible throughout the week. There are other things you can do to help keep his teeth clean and strengthen his teeth and gums such as:
- Using dry food that is crunchy
- Providing good strong chew toys and bones to chew on.
As for the actual brushing process, enjoy this brief video for some good ideas:
At Pawsitive Steps Dog Training, we care about the welfare of your dog and about his training, our training techniques are based around one simple question: What do you want and expect from your dog?
We believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are under given circumstances and situations. Check out our Family Friendly Training Classes.