Most dog parents know that it's important to brush their pup's teeth. After all, plaque and tartar can lead to bad breath, gum disease, and tooth loss. But did you know that brushing your dog's teeth can also help prevent heart disease? Plaque buildup on your dog's teeth can enter their bloodstream and cause inflammation in their arteries - a condition known as atherosclerosis. Yikes!
Why Brushing Your Dog's Teeth is Important
Here are some reasons why practicing good dental care for your dog is important.
Dental disease is the most common chronic disease in dogs. Just like in humans, poor dental hygiene can lead to a build-up of plaque and tartar, which can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. A regular brushing and oral care routine can go a long way in preventing these problems.
Dental disease can cause pain and discomfort for your dog. If your dog's teeth are not properly cared for, they may experience pain and inflammation of the gums, as well as bad breath.
If your dog's breath smells bad, it is very likely that some problems have already set in. This makes it even more important to implement a good oral care routine. It might make sense, if this is the case, to visit your veterinarian for a good oral exam before proceeding.
Dental disease can also lead to other health problems. If plaque and tartar are allowed to build up, they can enter the bloodstream and cause problems with the heart, kidney, and liver. It is a scientific fact that bacteria in the plaque can enter your dog's bloodstream and potentially spread to its heart, kidneys, and liver. Not good.
Proper dental care can help extend your dog's life. Studies have shown that dogs with good dental health tend to live longer than those with poor dental health. This is self-explanatory and applies to us humans too.
Proper dental care can also help you save money in the long run. Dogs with dental problems often require more veterinary care, which can be expensive. By taking care of your dog's teeth now, you can avoid costly veterinary bills down the road.
So, we have established that it's important to brush your dog's teeth - but how, exactly, do you do it? Read on for a step-by-step guide.
Choosing the Right Toothbrush & Toothpaste
You'll need a toothbrush that is small enough to comfortably fit in your dog's mouth - but not so small that it will be difficult to control. As for toothpaste, avoid human toothpaste, which can make your dog sick if swallowed.
Petsmart and other pet stores sell toothpaste made specifically for dogs that come in a variety of fun flavors like chicken, peanut butter, and lamb. Just remember to never use human toothpaste when brushing your dog's teeth.
Apply Toothpaste and Get Prepared to Brush
Put some toothpaste on the toothbrush. Squeeze a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto the bristles of the toothbrush. Remember, a little goes a long way - you don't need to cover the entire brush in toothpaste. Use a toothpaste recommended for dogs - there are plenty of these on the market to choose from.
How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth
Lift your dog's lip and start brushing. Gently lift your dog's lip and begin brushing the outside surfaces of its upper teeth using circular motions. Be careful not to puncture their gums with the bristles of the brush.
Once you've brushed the outsides of all of their upper teeth, move on to the insides of their upper teeth. To reach these surfaces, insert the brush at a 45-degree angle towards the inside of their mouth. Finish up by brushing your pup's tongue (this helps remove bacteria that cause bad breath).
Repeat this process on your dog's lower teeth.
Note: It may take some time for your dog to get used to having its teeth brushed. If they're resistant at first, just keep doing it until they get used to it (it may take several sessions). And be sure to give lots of praise and treats throughout!
Reward and Treat Time
Reward your pup! Once you're finished brushing your pup's teeth, give them a yummy treat as a well-deserved reward! They'll start to associate getting their teeth brushed with something positive (like getting a tasty treat), which will make future brushing sessions much easier.
Brushing your dog's teeth is an important part of being a responsible pet parent - but it doesn't have to be difficult or stressful. Just follow these simple steps and you'll have those pearly whites sparkling in no time!
If you want to learn more about how to choose the best toothbrush for your dog, check out our recent article below to learn more!