How to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

As a responsible dog owner you need to know how to clean your dog’s teeth properly.

Dogs, like humans, have the problem of plaque forming on their teeth. The thin film it produces is a combination of food particles, bacteria and minerals present in the dog’s saliva. Plaque should be removed by brushing a dog’s teeth; or as an alternative, giving your dog chew toys or chew treats.

If you fail to remove the plaque with regular brushing it will form tartar on the teeth, which leads to tooth decay and periodontal disease.

Plaque can be removed with regular tooth brushing at least once every couple of days. Plaque can convert to tartar in as little as three days if you don’t remove it, and then it can’t be removed by regular teeth brushing.

To clean your dog’s teeth, you’ll need a pet tooth brush with soft bristles and special pet toothpaste available at most pet stores. Don’t use toothpaste for humans because it will cause an upset stomach in your dog.

Pet toothpastes usually have a meaty flavor, so your dog should like the taste. The first time you undertake brushing your dog’s teeth, let it lick the toothpaste off your finger. Then put some on your dog’s teeth and rub it onto the teeth with your finger. Then start brushing, using gentle back and forth strokes.

You’ll need to clean each tooth to ensure that the plaque is completely removed. If your dog has a difficult time getting used to having its teeth brushed, you can clean only its front teeth and gradually include the back teeth.

Dog chew treats are good scraping agents and help remove the plaque from a dog’s teeth. Substitute your usual dog treats with dental chew treats which have a hard surface that helps clean the teeth.

Plaque can also be removed by giving your dog chew toys. If the toys have a tough texture they’ll remove the plaque. An inexpensive alternative to a chew toy from a pet store is to give your dog a rope or tennis ball to chew on. Just be sure that when buying chew toys you don’t select one that is too hard or your dog could fracture its teeth.

If you can afford the cost, it’s a very good idea to have a regular professional dental cleaning performed by your vet at least once per year. The vet will anesthetize your dog and remove the calculus and plaque deposits.

Many studies have shown that dogs fed kibble food have healthier teeth than ones that eat canned food exclusively. Dry kibble food helps remove plaque. If your dog needs to be on a diet of soft canned dog food, you can supplement this with some dry chew treats which will provide the same benefit as kibble and you’ll find that you need to clean your dog’s teeth a lot less.

Why Brush Your Dogs Teeth?

Good dental health is as important for your dog as it is for you. Tartar and gingivitis are two of the most common problems in dogs and can lead to gum disease and loss of teeth. Even more serious illnesses can affect your dog if its teeth are neglected. You should brush your dog’s teeth because not cleaning them for a long period of time will result in bacterial infections that can have an effect on your dog’s heart, kidneys and liver. It is estimated that 75% to 80% of all pet dogs have some oral and dental disease by the time they are only 3 years old.

Here are some things you need to know:

Brushing your dog’s teeth – Taking care of your dog’s teeth requires that you brush your dog’s teeth daily to eliminate plaque and slow the development of tartar on his teeth. Begin brushing his teeth gradually, making it a pleasant experience rather than a upsetting one. Use a finger brush instead of a toothbrush made for humans -and use toothpaste made for pets. Don’t use your own toothpaste as it may contain ingredients harmful to your dog. After brushing his teeth, reward him with a nice little treat. These dental treats help remove tartar build up, and the combination of chlorophyll, peppermint, parsley, dill, and fennel, help freshen your dog’s breath and also aid in digestion, alleviate gas, and soothe upset stomachs.

Diet – Your dog’s diet is important and what your pet eats will definitely affect its teeth. Dry dog foods and solid, dry doggy treats will help clean the plaque from the teeth. Real bones should not be fed to your dog and should not be used to help clean its teeth. Most people think bones are healthy for dogs; after all, didn’t we grow up watching dogs eating and burying bones in TV shows and movies. But the truth is real bones are not healthy for dogs. They are dangerous because they can cause health problems for your pet. Not all vets and pet experts will agree on this, but most veterinarians can tell you horror stories about bones and dogs.

It’s always been assumed that bones are good canine treats but this is not true. A dog’s teeth can fracture because most bones are hard enough that they can cause teeth to crack. Unfortunately, this can end up with your dog requiring a root canal or tooth extraction. Obstruction of your dog’s airway can also happen if all or part of a bone slides down its throat and becomes stuck, blocking the airways and causing it to choke. If the bone is large enough it can cause death by choking. The sharp edges of bones can also cut your dog’s gums and tongue. This is certainly painful for your dog, and bones may also get stuck in its mouth between the molars of the lower jaw.

Bones can pass through your dog’s digestive tract and cause serious damage. A piece of bone may become lodged in the stomach or intestines or even up in the esophagus. If this happens it requires an emergency visit to your vet and surgery to remove the bone. If a bone doesn’t get stuck it still can cause a lot of irritation as it passes through your dog’s intestinal tract. The worst thing that can happen is when fragments of bone actually poke through the lining of the inside of the stomach or intestines and colon. At that point your dog faces a life-threatening situation.

We know dogs love bones but there are too many risks when a dog eats bones, whether the bones are raw or cooked.

The bottom line is – do not feed your dog real bones. If you feed bones to your dog because you believe that chewing is instinctive and essential for dogs, try a safe alternative instead. Remember that dog’s need their teeth just as much as we do, and I have yet to see dentures for doggies or dental implants, which if they were available, certainly wouldn’t be covered by doggie Medicare!