Dogs use their teeth all day long; from eating to grooming to playing, so it’s critical that you keep your dog’s teeth in tip-top condition at all times. While dogs are far less prone to dental problems than humans, with our sugary diets, failing to maintain your dog’s smile can result in discomfort and expensive vet’s bills.
Fortunately there are a number of strategies you can use to clean your dog’s teeth and keep them in great condition for life.
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
The best way to clean dog’s teeth is to brush them as you do your own teeth. Ideally this brushing will be carried out daily, whereupon you’re able to regularly inspect your dog’s teeth and remove any debris. Cleaning your dog’s teeth allows you to remove tartar and keep their teeth in perfect condition.
That said, dogs differ greatly in how well they adapt to tooth-brushing. While very few dogs look forward to having their teeth brushed, many dogs will get used to this daily routine. Sadly, just as many dogs quickly learn to dislike the process and trying to brush your dog’s teeth can try the patience of owner and pet alike.
There are two keys to success:
Start early – the earlier you can introduce the process of tooth brushing the easier your pet will adjust to it. Starting on a puppy is generally much easier than getting an adult dog used to the feeling.
Introduce slowly – the second key to success when brushing your pet’s teeth is introducing them slowly to the process.
Getting Your Dog Used To Tooth Brushing
The worst thing you can possibly do is to grab your dog, a toothbrush and some toothpaste and just get scrubbing. It is much more effective to gently introduce the process over a period of weeks.
Start off by simply getting your dog used to having your fingers in their mouth. When they accept this attention, try getting them used to the feeling of rubbing on the teeth and gums. Ideally use a little toothpaste on your finger or a cloth and just gently rub. Keep these initial experiments short in nature, doing just a handful of teeth, before rewarding your pet for their patience.
As time progresses, and your pet gets ever more used to the sensation, try introducing a toothbrush for short periods of time.
Eventually you should be able to brush your dog’s teeth in their entirety with minimal complaint. Remember to offer positive encouragement, speaking gently to your pet throughout the process and offering a favourite toy or treat at the end as a reward.
It is important to point out that human toothpaste contains fluoride, which is toxic to dogs. You should therefore use a dog-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste in order to protect your dog’s teeth without risking his or her health.
Alternative Ways to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth
The best way to clean your dog’s teeth is through regular brushing. Sadly, there are some dogs that simply won’t adjust to this process. Fortunately there are some other strategies which can be applied to provide some cleaning action. Even for those dogs that will allow you to brush their teeth, these other options can be used alongside, helping to keep their teeth even cleaner.
There are a number of dog chew toys designed to help clean your pet’s teeth as they gnaw at the toy. Why not consider purchasing a few of these toys to provide entertainment as well as health benefits to your dog?
Brands like Pedigree with their “dentastix” sell a range of delicious chews all designed in hard materials that clean your pet’s teeth as they consume the chew. While these chews can be expensive, providing one each day as a treat to clean the teeth can be a worthwhile investment.
Lastly it is worth pointing out that dried foods naturally help to clean your dog’s teeth as they eat. As they crunch the hard kibble the rough surfaces polish the teeth and remove tartar from around the gum-line. Even if your pet is a dyed-in-the-wool wet food eater, sprinkling some dry kibble on the top of their dinner can be beneficial from a dental health perspective.