Friday, February 27, 2015

Brushing Your Dog's Teeth

February is dog dental month. To end the month off right, I decided to focus this week's posts on how to keep your dog's teeth pearly white.

There are several ways to care for your dog's teeth. The best way is to brush their teeth. As an alternative, many owners give their dogs dental and rawhide chews.

While chomping on dental and rawhide chews can strengthen teeth and scrape away at soft tartar, brushing helps remove plaque and harder tartar. Owners should complement brushing with dental and rawhide chews.

You can get brushing kits and toothpaste at your local pet store or veterinary clinic.

Here is a brushing kit I saw at Petco for $15.
I typically buy toothpaste from my vet. A tube costs $8. Avoid using human toothpaste on dogs because it will upset their stomach.

Getting your dog used to you brushing their teeth can be a process. Your dog may give you resistance at first but they will adjust to it. Start by opening their mouth and touching their teeth. Once they are comfortable with that, try putting some dog toothpaste on a soft bristled toothbrush and begin brushing.

Here is how I brush my dog Brody's teeth step by step:

Before I begin brushing his teeth, I let him sniff and lick the toothbrush.

Next, I had my dad lift his lip so I could take the picture.

Then with my dad holding the bottom of his mouth and lifting his lip, I start brushing his teeth. I brush from the gum line to the tip of each tooth. Larger teeth like the canine are prone to dental problems so I make sure to brush them thoroughly.

Overall, brushing your dog's teeth is a fairly easy and takes about five minutes. It usually isn't a two person job unless you are trying to photograph it. There are many advantages to it as well.

First, brushing your dog's teeth a few times a week can greatly reduce the risk of oral disease. Common diseases that dogs can get include gingivitis and gum disease.

According to the ASPCA, 85 percent of dogs over the age of five develop gum disease. The disease starts when food and bacteria form plaque deposits near the gum line. If the plaque is not brushed away, it turns into hard tartar and causes the gums to be inflamed. This is the gingivitis stage. If gingivitis is not treated, the disease will progress into gum disease.

Gum disease fully develops when the gums move away from the teeth. More bacteria deposits will form in the space between the gums and teeth. The deposits are very painful and lead to bacteria infections that can spread to the heart and liver. The disease is also irreversible.

Second, brushing can help freshen your dog's breath. Most of the toothpastes and mouthwashes come in a variety of flavors. Ingredients in these products kill odor causing bacteria.

Third, brushing will help you detect broken teeth faster because you are inspecting your dog's teeth more regularly.

Lastly, brushing will prevent your dog from experiencing oral pain and save you multiple trips to the vet. The benefits help both owner and dog. The earlier you start the better off both of you will be.

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