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How Often Should You Brush Your Dog's Teeth?
By hannah hollinger
Published: 05/09/2019, edited: 09/21/2021
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A new pet parent may ask, “Can I brush my dog’s teeth?” and the answer is a resounding yes. Cleaning your furry buddy’s teeth is an essential part of dog ownership and is a proactive part of dog care that is relatively simple.
Why brush my dog's teeth?
Taking the time to brush your dog’s teeth will save you financially in the long run, but more importantly, will keep your pet healthy. Regular dental care for your dog can avoid costly surgical procedures and ward off pain and discomfort for your dog. If you don’t brush your dog’s teeth they will become covered in plaque. Bacteria and saliva work together to form this sticky substance which adheres to the teeth. It then hardens and turns into tartar.
Without an adequate tooth brushing regimen, the plaque and tartar (also called dental calculus) will spread, moving up the gum line. Because the gum is now compromised, your dog may lose teeth and suffer damage to the supporting gum. The final stage is painful gum disease, called periodontal disease. The bone of the jaw can be compromised and the soft tissue around the teeth destroyed. Progression of periodontal disease can mean weakening of the jaw bone and infection.
How often should I brush my dog's teeth?
The ideal answer is daily. Brushing your dog’s teeth twice a day is even better, but if this is not realistic for you, then try to brush your dog’s teeth at the end of each day. At the minimum, three times a week is essential to avoid build-up of dental plaque. Many pet parents will brush their dog’s teeth at bedtime, right after they clean their own. Doing so puts teeth cleaning time into the daily routine and the pup learns to expect it.
All dogs can learn to accept tooth brushing. Diligence and patience are a necessary part of at-home dental care. If you have a canine companion who resists the cleaning of the teeth, speak to your veterinarian about using a dental rinse in between brushings. A rinse can easily be squirted on the teeth and gums with the use of a syringe. The rinse will work as an anti-plaque antiseptic.
How do I brush my dog's teeth?
Teaching a puppy to sit and have their teeth cleaned is easy and because they are young, it is the best time to instill the habit. Still, a dog of any age can accept the procedure if you do the introduction right.
To begin, take a soft cloth or a fingertip toothbrush and add a bit of dog-safe toothpaste. Purchase the toothpaste from the veterinarian; never use human toothpaste or products like baking soda as they are harmful to your dog if ingested. Try the rubbing action only for a few days and concentrate on the front outside surfaces.
After your pup is used to tasting the doggy toothpaste, add a small amount to a toothbrush. Use either a specially designed dog toothbrush or a soft-bristled child’s toothbrush. Plaque accumulates the most on the canine teeth and the cheek teeth, so work on those first.
Once your dog gets used to the sensation of having you touch their lips and mouth, you can gradually move to all of the teeth. Thirty seconds per side should do the trick. Do not worry about the inside of the teeth; plaque tends to build up on the outside and as well, your dog’s tongue works as a natural toothbrush on the inside.
How often should I have my dog's teeth checked?
Your veterinarian will check your pup’s teeth at their annual visit. If your dog is prone to dental decay, your vet may want to see your companion more often. Thoroughly brushing your dog’s teeth daily will avoid the costly expense of a dental surgery involving the removal of teeth. The vet may recommend, however, a routine cleaning every year to maintain your dog’s optimal health.