According to a study done by Hill’s, only 10% of dog owners brush their dog’s teeth.
We all brush our own teeth multiple times a day to make sure that they stay healthy and cavity-free, but did you know that you should actually be doing the same for your pet? Dogs are at risk for dental disease much the same way that humans are. Dental work, such as cleanings and tooth extractions, can be done through your veterinarian’s office, but it’s expensive and involves anesthesia. By taking care of your pet’s teeth you can help to keep your pet’s teeth healthy.
How to Get Started
Start by introducing the idea of brushing teeth to your dog as early as possible – preferably when they’re still a puppy. Your veterinarian likely sells pet toothpaste in chicken and beef flavors. Introduce the toothpaste by putting just a small drop onto your pet’s lip – they will lick it off and learn that it is tasty. After doing that for a few days, put a small bit of toothpaste on a small toothbrush (the size of the brush will depend on the size of your pet – speak with your vet for advice), gently lift your pet’s lip, and just wipe it across your pet’s gum once. Praise your pet and make it a positive experience, then continue this practice each day, gradually beginning to actually brush your pet’s teeth.
What If They Don’t Like It?
Some pets simply won’t tolerate having their teeth brushed, but there are other measures you can take to improve their dental health. Special “dental diet” foods are available – these foods are kibble formulas which are made particularly crunchy so that the kibble scrapes plaque from your pet’s teeth as he or she eats it. There are dental toys for both cats and dogs which clean their teeth as they chew and play with them. You can also purchase dental treats available for both cats and dogs, with the idea being that they can also scrape off and clean the pet’s teeth.
If you have questions about your pet’s dental health, speak with your veterinarian. Your vet will examine your pet’s teeth during his or her annual exam, and will let you know if your pet is developing any dental issues.
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