Maintaining good oral health is not just important for humans, but for our furry friends as well. Regular tooth brushing for dogs is essential in preventing periodontal disease and maintaining their overall health. Just like our own teeth, dogs’ teeth accumulate bacteria that can lead to plaque and dental calculus formation if left untreated. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to brush your dog’s teeth, from introducing the process gradually to selecting the right toothpaste and toothbrush. It also offers alternatives for dogs who may resist tooth brushing. Remember, starting a dental care routine early on is crucial, and if your dog already has periodontal disease, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian for proper treatment.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Taking care of your dog’s oral health is an important aspect of their overall well-being. Just like humans, dogs can develop dental problems if their teeth are not properly cared for. Brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis can help prevent the buildup of plaque, tartar, and other dental issues. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to brush your dog’s teeth effectively.
Take it slow
The key to successfully brushing your dog’s teeth is to take it slow and be patient. Introduce the toothbrushing routine gradually, allowing your dog to get used to the process. This will help make the experience more comfortable and less stressful for both you and your furry friend.
Start with rubbing your finger or a soft damp washcloth
To get your dog accustomed to having their teeth touched, begin by gently rubbing your finger or a soft damp washcloth along the outer surface of their front teeth. Use a back and forth motion and focus on the area where the teeth meet the gums.
Advance toward the back teeth
Once your dog is comfortable with the initial step, gradually move towards the back teeth. Keep in mind that the teeth in your dog’s upper jaw may overhang the lower teeth, so you may need to open their mouth slightly to access the lower teeth.
Add in accessing the middle and inner surfaces of teeth
If your dog allows you to open their mouth, try to access the middle and inner surfaces of their teeth as well. However, if your dog is resistant to this, do not force them. It’s important to make the tooth-brushing experience a positive one for your dog.
Introduce a soft toothbrush or finger brush
Once your dog is comfortable with having their teeth touched, you can introduce a soft toothbrush or a finger brush into the routine. Begin by brushing the front teeth and gradually move towards the back teeth. You can use a toothbrush specifically made for dogs, a rubber brush that fits over your finger, or a soft toothbrush designed for babies.
Use a toothbrush made for dogs, a rubber brush, or a soft toothbrush for babies
When selecting a toothbrush for your dog, choose one that is made specifically for dogs. Alternatively, you can use a rubber brush that fits over your finger or a soft toothbrush designed for babies. These options are gentle on your dog’s teeth and gums.
Introduce dog toothpaste
To make the tooth-brushing experience more enjoyable for your dog, introduce them to dog toothpaste. Dog toothpaste comes in various flavors such as chicken, beef, peanut butter, and mint. Put a small amount of toothpaste on your finger and allow your dog to investigate the smell and flavor. If they are not fond of a particular flavor, try a different one.
Do not use human toothpaste
It is important to note that you should never use human toothpaste on your dog. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that are not meant to be swallowed, and dogs are not able to rinse and spit like humans. Choose a toothpaste that is specifically formulated for dogs to ensure their safety and well-being.
For more toothbrushing tips
If you want to learn more about how to properly brush your dog’s teeth, you can find additional tips and techniques here.
How to Select a Dog Toothpaste and Toothbrush
Choosing the right toothpaste and toothbrush for your dog is essential to ensure their oral health. Here are some factors to consider when selecting these dental care products.
Look for the seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)
The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is an organization dedicated to promoting and improving oral health in animals. When choosing a dental health product for your dog, look for the seal of approval from the VOHC. This seal indicates that the product has met the organization’s rigorous standards and is safe and effective for your dog’s oral health.
Check if the toothpaste has the ADA Seal of Acceptance
Similar to human toothpaste, some dog toothpaste may carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance. This seal indicates that the toothpaste has met the standards set forth by the American Dental Association and can benefit your dog’s oral health. However, it’s important to note that this seal is not specific to dog toothpaste and may not be present on all dental products for dogs.
VOHC does a rigorous review of scientific studies
The VOHC does not conduct its own testing of dental products for dogs. Instead, it accepts applications from manufacturers who believe their products meet the VOHC’s standards. The organization then conducts a thorough review of the scientific studies provided by the manufacturers to ensure the effectiveness of the products.
VOHC Accepted logo
Products that meet the VOHC’s standards are granted the VOHC Accepted logo. When selecting a toothpaste or toothbrush for your dog, look for this logo as an indication that the product has been reviewed and approved by the VOHC.
List of approved products
To find a list of dental care products for dogs that have been approved by the VOHC, you can visit their website here. This list will help you make an informed decision when choosing toothpaste and toothbrushes for your dog.
Alternatives to Tooth-Brushing
While tooth brushing is the gold standard for at-home dental care for dogs, there are alternatives available for those who struggle to brush their dog’s teeth. Here are some options you can consider:
Treats, chews, and additives to minimize plaque production
There are various treats, chews, and additives available that claim to minimize plaque production and promote oral health in dogs. These products are designed to be given to your dog as a supplement to regular tooth brushing or as an alternative if tooth brushing is not possible. However, it’s important to note that these alternatives may not be as effective as regular tooth brushing.
Gold standard is still twice daily tooth brushing
While there are alternatives to tooth brushing, it’s essential to remember that nothing compares to the effectiveness of regular tooth brushing. Brushing your dog’s teeth twice a day is still considered the gold standard for maintaining good oral health in dogs. If possible, aim to incorporate tooth brushing into your dog’s daily routine.
Many treats, chews, and food/water additives claim oral health benefits
When selecting treats, chews, or food/water additives that claim oral health benefits, it’s important to do your research. Look for products that have been tested and approved by reputable organizations, such as the VOHC. Additionally, consult with your veterinarian to determine which products are suitable for your dog and their specific oral health needs.
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth is Not Enough!
While regular tooth brushing is an essential part of maintaining your dog’s oral health, it is not the only step you should take. Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind:
Start an at-home dental care plan after periodontal disease diagnosis
If your dog has been diagnosed with periodontal disease, it’s crucial to start an at-home dental care plan in addition to seeking professional treatment. Periodontal disease is a serious condition that requires veterinary intervention. Once your dog’s mouth is clean and healthy following a professional dental cleaning and oral exam, you can implement an at-home dental care routine.
First step is a professional dental cleaning and oral exam
The first step in addressing periodontal disease is to have your dog undergo a professional dental cleaning and oral examination by a veterinarian. This thorough cleaning will remove any existing plaque and tartar buildup and allow for a proper assessment of your dog’s oral health. It is crucial to address any dental issues before starting an at-home dental care program.
Only start at-home dental care program when dog’s mouth is clean and healthy
After your dog’s mouth has been professionally cleaned and examined, you can begin an at-home dental care program. This program may include regular tooth brushing, the use of dental treats or chews, and appropriate dental hygiene practices. However, it’s important to note that at-home dental care alone is not sufficient to reverse or stop the progression of periodontal disease. Regular professional dental cleanings and check-ups are still necessary for optimal oral health.
By following these guidelines and implementing proper dental care practices, you can help ensure that your dog has a healthy and happy smile. Remember to be patient, take it slow, and make the tooth-brushing experience a positive one for your furry friend. Your dog will thank you for it with fresh breath and a healthy mouth!