I had no clue that dogs required regular teeth brushing. I know dog owners who admit they’ve never brushed their dog’s teeth. When adopting dogs and people speak of grooming them, I seldom hear teeth-brushing come up. Regardless, it is important. According to ASPCA “Veterinarians estimate that 85 percent of dogs over five years of age suffer from periodontal disease” and that’s not a fact to take lightly. Periodontal disease and Gingivitis can lead to more serious gum infections that can spread to vital organs such as the heart, liver or kidneys.
In your annual doggy checkup, make sure your Veterinarian examines your dog’s teeth. This would be a good time for the Veterinarian to catch any issues with the dog’s gums or teeth.The very first thing I did after I adopted Argos was to take him in for a general checkup with my local Veterinarian. She knew that I was inexperienced and the first thing she spoke to me in great length about was dog teeth, dog gums and how to care for both. Argos was only 4 months old at the time and she advised that I begin introducing him to this routine by gently caressing his teeth and gums with my fingers when he was relaxed, snuggling or being petted. Same thing went for his paws, butt, tail and ears. Point is, get your dog used to you touching him/her anywhere.
That has been the most useful advice I’ve been given. Soon after that visit I ordered Argos a toothbrush and some poultry flavored doggy toothpaste and began cleaning his teeth 5-6 times a week. As much as I tried, there was always a night or two when the job didn’t get done. Ellie is 8 months old today and although she lets me touch her teeth and gums, she doesn’t like the toothbrush as much. She likes the flavor of the toothpaste enough to be interested in the brushing process for about a minute. To help me with the task I decided to implement a treat after each session. Ellie and Argos both get extremely excited whenever they see a toothbrush in my hand, even if its not theirs. The process takes me no more than 3 minutes per dog and is usually followed by a quick brush of their coats and wiping away any crustiness around the eyes or mouth. After we are done, they sit and patiently wait for me to open the treat jar and hand out a Greenie to each of them. I figured, why not make it a hygiene themed treat?
How To Brush Dog’s Teeth:
- Have supplies at the ready: dog toothbrush and toothpaste, poultry flavored works well. I use Virbac’s CET Poultry Toothpaste. Whatever you do, don’t buy mint flavored paste, the dog will hate you for it.
- Treats, small ones you can feed constantly and will be consumed quickly so as not to interrupt or distract the process. Zuke’s Mini Naturals Dog Treats work well for me.
- Find a comfortable, quiet place for you and the dog. You attempting anything while the dog is distracted is going to be a waste of your energy. If you have other dogs or children, find a place in the house where you can close the door behind you. Other dogs and children can be distracting sometimes.
- Start by touching your dogs muzzle, treat and repeat. Then lift the lips, treat and repeat. Increase the time you keep your hand on the muzzle or the touching and lifting their lips and treat. If this is the only thing you get done the first time but you manage to increase the time you hold their mouths, congratulations, you’ve done great.
- Rub some toothpaste on the toothbrush and let your dog inspect it. Let him/her lick the toothpaste off. Get them interested in this delicious bristly stick.
- Rub some toothpaste on the toothbrush, gently lift their lips (I start on the right) and brush in long soft strokes horizontal to the gums. Repeat on the left side. If you find yourself struggling with the dog or holding them down to hard, leave it alone. This is the kind of uncomfortable stuff that is going to make toothbrushing a nightmare both for you and the dog. Try again another night.
- You were only able to get a stroke or two on each side? Congratulations! The next night, don’t treat until you get at least one more brush stroke on each side.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Not on the same night though. Whatever your success level was, give the dog a nice treat to end each session. Keep this up and the dog will know exactly what to expect and will be excited every time he/she sees you hold a toothbrush.
Professional Teeth Cleaning
A Veterinarian’s office told me that teeth cleaning runs about $300 and the fee includes lab work. I imagine that if you are in serious need of this procedure for your pup, you can shop around with local Veterinarian offices. I’ve also read that non-Anesthesia teeth cleaning can be very stressful to a dog and it’s not always the best of options. Whatever you do, inform yourself and make sure you are doing the right thing for your dog. Or you can make it easy on yourself and brush every night and save yourself the trouble. Both you and your dog will be the better for it.
Dog Teeth Cleaning Products & Treats
Do these things really work? I’m talking about products such as Greenies Total Oral Health Solutions, Tropiclean Fresh Breath Plaque Remover “fight periodontal disease without brushing”, drinking water additives, and chews. I feed my dog’s Greenie’s because once upon a time when Argos was a picky eater, he enjoyed eating a sample we got in the mail. I don’t feed it to them for all the oral health promises they tout. I got a 2 fl. oz Tropiclean in a Barkbox last year and I’ve used it once. Tropiclean is minty and Argos has never given me such a murderous look as he did when I tried putting this stuff in his mouth a second time. So I didn’t. I also feed them Dentley’s Rawhide Chew Chips not because they claim that the rawhide “helps reduce tartar” but because these chews keep them busy for hours and they keep Ellie out of the bathroom trash. As for water additives, these just don’t make any sense to me. Would I put Listerine in my drinking water to help me with my oral hygiene? No way. If my mouth stinks even after I have thoroughly brushed my teeth, then something else is wrong. From what I understand, water additives help with malodorous dog breath. Some people claim to keep their dog’s teeth clean but are unable to get the bad breath out. I’ve never dealt with anything like this but I imagine that if my dog had such bad breath even after having a consistent brushing regimen, I would visit the Vet to make sure there isn’t a tooth rotting somewhere or infected gums.
All in all, it seems that spending 3 minutes a night brushing your dog’s teeth will save you money no matter what. For those of you out there trying to save a buck or two on your dog expenditures, look no further. Companies that create products which claim to be an all-in-one solutions to dog oral hygiene are after those who don’t realize how easy and simple brushing can a dog’s teeth can be.
What do you prefer doing? Do you have experience with professional dog teeth cleaning services? Are you a loyal fan of dog hygienic products? Tell me why!