How to Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to keep your dog’s pearly whites clean and healthy. Some ways your dog can maintain optimal dental health include:
Chewing is typical canine behavior. Some dogs chew as a way to cope with anxiety or frustration; chewing can also be a form of entertainment for a bored dog or a pup with excess energy. Of course, chewing is also beneficial for dental health. Regular chewing helps to keep the jaws strong and scrapes plaque off the teeth. Dogs love finding objects to chew on, so it’s best to have some dog-friendly chew toys on hand before Fido decides to turn your shoe into his next chew toy. Recommended chew toys include safe rawhide alternatives, Kongs, and raw bones. Some dog owners also like to give their dogs raw carrots (some prefer frozen) or other dog-friendly vegetables for a healthy chewing session.
Be sure to purchase dog-friendly toothpaste with dog-friendly flavors, since the ingredients in your own minty tube may contain ingredients that are toxic for dogs, such as xylitol. Alternatively, you can try your hand at making DIY dog toothpaste. As far as brushing goes, take some time to figure out what works best for you and your pooch. Some prefer canine toothbrushes, while others use finger brushes or even just gauze wrapped around the finger. Dental wipes are another option, though they aren’t as efficient as a toothbrush when it comes to scraping grime off the teeth.
Whether you opt for kibble or a raw diet, a well-balanced diet is crucial to maintaining your dog’s overall health. Plus, chewing on kibble can provide some added teeth cleaning; dogs on raw diets have plenty of opportunities to chew on raw bones.
Supplementing Oral Health
In between brushing, it’s great to have an additional method for dental care in place. Try some of these hands-off approaches to dental care that will improve dental health and maximize the effects of your routine. PetStrips are easy to use and provide bacteria control throughout the day. A single strip can also be added to your pets water bowl or fountain. As they drink, the solution is moved around their mouth, distributing the dental effects.
When choosing a dental solution, try finding products that contain natural bacteria fighters, like thymol eucalyptol. These will be very effective at combating bad breath by reducing the amount of bacteria. For pets that just do not drink enough, the effects will be significantly muted, and possibly completely ineffective. Another factor to consider that may affect the efficacy of a water additive is the cleanliness of the bowl or dish that the water is offered in. Water bowls should be cleaned weekly to prevent bacteria build up. Plastic or rubber bowls should be exchanged for metal, ceramic or glass to prevent further bacteria that can fester in the cracks and scratches of the material.
For a different approach that may be more effective for our less hydrated pets, try adding to your pets food. Similar to adding to their water, the flavorful strip can be added to their meals, and they do the rest of the work for you. This is an effective way to prevent plaque build-up and bad breath. Simply add one strip to your pet’s food and as they eat, they will naturally circulate the healthy bacteria around their mouth.
In addition to implementing an at-home dental routine, it’s also important to schedule regular professional cleanings with your vet. After all, your vet is able to detect issues that may otherwise go unnoticed; they can also take x-rays and fill or extract teeth, which are definitely procedures that you shouldn’t try at home!
Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth at Home
You don’t necessarily need to brush your dog’s teeth every day, but the more often, the better. Most vets recommend daily brushing, or at least 2-4 times per week. At first, your dog may not like the idea of getting his teeth cleaned. Be patient while he gets used to the idea. As with grooming, add to the routine gradually rather than diving in all at once. Find a quiet, calm, well-lit area, and make sure you and your furry friend are feeling comfortable and relaxed. Gently touch the teeth and gums until Fido gets used to the feeling of his mouth being touched. If he’s resisting, it’s okay to take a break and try again later. Once your dog is used to the feeling of having his teeth and gums touched, gently brush up and down, and then side-to-side. When you’re done, give your dog some water and clean the brush.
- Pick a calm time to brush your pooch’s teeth, and make sure that they have eaten for the day.
- Choose a location that has good lighting, so that you can see all the way into the back of their mouth.
- Touch your pet’s teeth and gums with your fingers first. Make sure that your hound is comfortable with you handling their mouth. Lift the top lip while you touch the teeth, and then repeat this step with the bottom lip.
- Now, slowly touch the toothbrush to your dog’s teeth. Touch all sides of teeth on the top and bottom. Then, treat and praise them after this step.
- Slowly introduce toothpaste to your dog by letting them sniff and lick the paste. Praise your dog, like the toothpaste is a treat.
- Place toothpaste on the toothbrush.
- Start at the front teeth on the top of the mouth and move around to the sides.
- Move to the bottom of the mouth and move from the front to the sides.
- Now that you’ve brushed everything make sure to treat your furball, praise them, and make them feel good. Brushing teeth isn’t a natural experience, so you need to encourage them.
- Choose to brush your dog’s teeth daily after meals, or several times a week for the best dental hygiene routine. Even once a mouth is better than not at all.
Of course, you can’t forget the reward! Offer plenty of treats and positive attention to reward your pet for his cooperative behavior. Ideally, over time he will eventually come to find those tooth brushing sessions to be a positive bonding experience with you.