Brushing and cleaning your dog’s teeth…

One of the most important weapons in your dog disease prevention arsenal should be serious attention to your dog’s dental health.  Cleaning your dogs’ teeth is as important as brushing your own teeth.

dog brushing teethWe’re gradually expanding our knowledge of the importance of good dental hygiene as the key to the prevention of several chronic disease problems.  Ultimately I believe we will come to understand that tooth and gum disease can lead to serious problems in the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.  But by following a few basic recommendations, you should be able to prevent most dental disease and avoid most costly dental procedures at the veterinary clinic

Moms and dads nagged us to brush twice a day until it became a lifelong habit.   So it should come as no surprise that your canine’s mouth needs the same attention.  While brushing dog teeth may seem like a chore to be avoided at all costs, with a little patience and persistence you might be surprised at the benefits.  The key to success here is to start slowly, using the appropriate products.

Don’t try to use human toothpaste.  Your toothpaste was not designed to be swallowed and may cause irritation and upset stomach.  There are several pet toothpaste products on the market which are meat flavored and completely safe to swallow.

  • Start with a small amount of paste on your finger and gentle rubbing along the lips and gums.  Most dogs will cooperate if you do this every day or so for a few days.
  • If all goes well, gradually introduce a toothbrush into the process.  There are a number of styles available, but any soft bristled brush should do the job.  Gently lift the lip away from the teeth and gums and gently brush in a back and forth motion, being sure to brush along the gum line as well the tooth itself.
  • With patience, most dogs will come to accept the process and even enjoy the attention.  Daily brushing is the ideal, of course, but not always practical.  I would try to do it at least every two or three days because less frequently greatly decreases the benefits.

If you find that brushing just doesn’t work for either or both of you, there are other commercial products available that may do almost as well.

There are especially prepared diets, various types of “chews”, and chemicals that can be added to water, all of which will help to minimize the buildup of tartar, plaque, and resulting periodontal disease.

The American Veterinary Dental College sponsors the Veterinary Oral Health Council which has developed protocols for endorsing plaque and calculus retardant products.  Their Seal of Acceptance is recognized worldwide.  More information and a list of acceptable products is available at their website:  www.vohc.org.

For more information on a few of these products check out our Dog Health Adviser Recommends page.

The Dog Health Adviser strongly believes that a little time and effort spent on your dog’s dental health can result in life-long health benefits, and greatly reduce the need for unpleasant and expensive  trips to the veterinary clinic.

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