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Oral Care Tips for Dogs

Oral Care : Written by Dr M Perissinotto BVsc

  • Caring for your Dog's Teeth

Dental care in dogs is often overlooked and yet is very important to the overall health and well being  of your pet. The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80 percent of dogs over 3 years of age shows signs of oral or dental disease. Your dog may develop foul mouth odors, gum disease and rotten and damaged teeth if his dental hygiene is not properly cared for.  Advanced teeth problems can be life threatening and expensive to treat.  Dogs with poor oral health are alot more likely to develope heart disease later in life than those with good oral health. It is important to properly care for your dog’s teeth to ensure a long, healthy and happy life.

  • Understanding Dental Disorders

Unbrushed dog teeth will begin to form plaque.  Plaque that forms on dog teeth is a mixture of minerals from saliva, bacteria and food particles.  It is soft, sticky and gooey at first, but as the bacteria die, the plaque becomes calcified, hardens and turns to a brown, rough, cement like substance called tartar.  More plaque sticks to the tartar along with more bacteria and the tartar builds up.  As more and more tartar forms in your dog’s mouth, it spreads down below the gum line, causing them to become red, swollen and bleed easily.  In the final stages of gum or periodontal disease as it is also known, the tissues surrounding the tooth are destroyed, the bony socket holding the tooth erodes and the tooth becomes loose. The gums become infected and teeth fall out. All of this is very painful for your pet.  Removing plaque while it is still soft by regular tooth brushing is the best way to prevent this from happening.

  • How to Brush Your Dog Teeth

When establishing a dog tooth brushing routine with your pet, you first want to be sure to choose the right time.  It is best to select a time when both you and your pet feel relaxed, a time that is convenient for you so that you do not feel rushed.  After selecting a time, you need to gradually get your dog used to the process of tooth brushing.  Some dogs will accept this routine much more freely than others.

To get your dog acquainted with the process, it is best to not use a toothbrush at first.  Instead, hold your canine friend as if you were cuddling it.  Then, using your finger, stroke the outside of its cheeks.  After your dog appears to be comfortable, place some flavored pet toothpaste, such as Dentipet Toothpaste, on your finger and let her taste it.  The yummy flavor will leave your pet wanting more.

After going through this process a few times with your dog, you can now introduce the toothbrush.  You should place only a small amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.  Then, using circular motions, brush a couple of your dog’s teeth as well as the gum line at the bottom of the dog teeth.  This will help your dog get used to the feeling of the toothbrush. 

Over the next few days, gradually brush more of your dog’s teeth until you are eventually getting to all of them.  Always be sure to move slowly and to be gentle and try to avoid upsetting your dog.  You do not want to stop the brushing if your dog begins to resist, otherwise she will learn that fighting gets her out of dental cleaning.  At the same time, do not forget to give your dog loads of praise after completing a session.

Your ultimate goal should be to brush for 30 seconds on each side of dog teeth.  You should also concentrate mostly on the outside of the dog teeth because dogs do not tend to get much tartar on the inside.  The teeth in the way back, however, are very important.