February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and that makes it a great time to talk about how to brush your dog’s teeth.
I can almost hear the groans. Yes, I know that trying to brush a dog’s teeth can be a major pain in the neck, but it’s oh so important. Did you know that:
- Studies estimate 85 percent of all pets have signs of periodontal disease by age 3.
- Advanced periodontal disease can lead to bone loss, tissue destruction, and puss formations in the cavities between the gum and teeth.
- Improper dental hygiene can actually shorten your pet’s life.
Those reasons (and so many more) are exactly why it’s never too late to start brushing your dog’s teeth. Take a look at the helpful infographic below from my friends at ASPCA Pet Health Insurance.
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How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
To brush your dog’s teeth, start with a dog-friendly toothbrush. I like the fingertip brushes, as they seem to be a little less intimidating to dogs. Brushing will help remove the plaque that can harden and cause tartar in your pet’s mouth.
Once you’ve found the right toothbrush, you’ll need toothpaste. DO NOT USE PEOPLE TOOTHPASTE for your dog; it contains ingredients that can be toxic to your pet.
Instead, try whipping up some of my DIY dog toothpaste. It’s got a great flavor that dogs love, and that will make brushing a lot easier.
If you don’t want to make your own toothpaste, this one from Arm & Hammer is a good one.
It’s important for you to remain calm and cool while brushing your dog’s teeth. If you get upset, stressed, or angry during the process, your dog is going to feed off your emotions. You want her to be as relaxed and cooperative as possible, and that starts with you.
How Often Should You Brush
Ask 10 people and you’ll get 10 different answers to this question. In a perfect world, brushing daily would be great but let’s be honest: most of us barely have enough time to brush our own teeth every day.
My advice is, brush as often as possible. Two or three times a week is better that not at all, and if you can only do it once a week, then so be it. Your dog will be better for it, no matter how often you brush her teeth.
Between brushings, you can help keep her teeth a little cleaner by feeding kibble instead of canned food or giving crunchy dog treats as a snack.
A dental toy like this one from Kong is great for cleaning teeth and gums as your dog chews. Rope tug toys can also be helpful for cleaning teeth, and they offer a great opportunity for you to play a rousing game of tug of war with your dog!
You might also try giving Greenies each day. My dogs loves these, and I love that they clean down to the gum line to fight plaque and tartar and also freshen breath. Greenies Treats for Dogs are veterinarian recommended and accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
Although bad breath can be a sign of a much bigger health problem, some dogs simply have stinky breath. Try my homemade doggy breath mints. I promise your dog will love them, and you’ll love her sweet breath!
As always, I highly recommend contacting your own veterinarian if you have any questions about your dog’s health, including oral hygiene. Your dog should also have a professional dental cleaning once per year.
Do you brush your dog’s teeth?
I’d love to hear about your experience in a comment below. Or better yet, stop by my private Facebook group for dog moms and join in the conversation there!