We all know that humans should brush their teeth every day, but humans aren’t the only animal that benefit from a daily brushing: your K-9’s canines should also be brushed.
Many people have long assumed that dogs don’t need to have their teeth brushed. The conventional wisdom is that a dog’s teeth naturally get cleaned from chewing on bones and other chew toys, but this simply isn’t true.
If your dog’s teeth have never been brushed, take a good look at them, especially around the gum line, and you’ll likely find a substantial amount of plaque. Just like with people, plaque buildup will cause your dog’s teeth to decay and fall out prematurely. It can also lead to oral diseases, such as gum disease – aka gingivitis.
Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth once per day. You should also start doing it as soon as possible. If you start brushing your dog’s teeth while they’re still young, they will get used to it quickly and not put up much of a fuss; however, if you wait until your dog is old before you start brushing, they probably won’t like it and they’ll give you a hard time.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Brushing a dog’s teeth isn’t exactly the same as brushing your own teeth, so here are step-by-step instructions to help you get started.
It’s important that you use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs. Using a doggie toothbrush will make the process a lot easier for both of you, and it is extremely important that you only use a toothpaste formulated for dogs because regular toothpaste contains ingredients that are poisonous to dogs and can result in death.
Give your dog a small sample of the toothpaste before you begin brushing to prepare them for the taste. Dog toothpastes are typically flavored with flavors dogs like, like meat, so there’s a good chance your dog will actually enjoy the taste of it.
Gently lift your dog’s upper lip to reveal the teeth and gums, then begin brushing the outside of their teeth and gums the same way you would brush your own. Use a soft, circular motion to carefully go around the entirety of each tooth and the gum line.
Your dog probably won’t let you brush the inner side of their teeth and gums, so it’s best to just focus on the outside – cheek-facing side. Also make sure that you reach the back molars and canines, as this is where the most plaque builds up.
Reward your dog with a treat. If you make a habit of always rewarding your dog with a treat after each brushing, they will quickly learn to associate brushing with receiving a treat, and in no time at all they will gladly let you brush them without any fuss.
Have Your Dog’s Teeth Professionally Cleaned
Experts recommend having an adult dog’s teeth professionally cleaned at least once per year. Think of this as like a person going to the dentist for a professional checkup and cleaning.
Your veterinarian should be able to provide this service for you. It is standard practice for the dog be put under anesthesia when undergoing a professional cleaning because these cleanings can be very unpleasant for them, so don’t be alarmed when the vet mentions putting them under.