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Humans need to brush their teeth daily, so why don’t dogs follow the same routine? For best dental health, dogs should be getting their teeth brushed at least several times a week, but it’s common for dog parents to forget. Plus, many dogs despise getting their teeth brushed, which can make sticking to a dental care routine even trickier.
Yet, staying on top of your dog’s dental health is the key to helping your pup live a long, pain-free life. February is Pet Dental Care Month, so let’s dive into information that will help you stay on top of your pup’s teeth-brushing needs.
Benefits of Proper Dental Care for Dogs
With good dental health, dogs can also be healthier overall, leading to a longer, happier life. Here are a few reasons why pet dental care is crucial:
- Prevents tooth loss
- Gives your dog better breath
- Prevents oral pain
- Reduces the risk of dental disease
- Reduces the risk of organ damage in other areas of the body
Ways to Keep up with Your Pet’s Dental Health
Your vet will examine your dog’s teeth during annual checkups, but you should also keep up with dental care at home. Below are several ways to keep your dog’s teeth as healthy as possible.
Brush Their Teeth Regularly
The best way to stay on top of your dog’s dental health is to brush their teeth as much as you can. Aim for at least two to three times per week. However, getting in the habit of doing it every day can give you the best results. If you know you might forget, set a reminder on your phone to brush your dog’s teeth at a specific time.
When brushing your pup’s teeth, make sure you use dog-safe toothpaste, such as the Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Poultry Flavor Toothpaste or the Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste. A traditional dog toothbrush works for many, but others prefer a finger toothbrush to more easily reach all your dog’s teeth.
Use Dental Sticks
Dental sticks are an easy way to keep your dog’s teeth clean. They smell and taste like treats, so most dogs will happily gnaw on them. As your dog chews, the dental sticks keep your dog’s breath fresh and their teeth and gums healthy. As convenient as the chews are, they shouldn’t replace teeth brushing entirely.
Use a Water Additive
For dogs that hate teeth brushing and dislike the taste of dental sticks, a water additive (like the TropiClean Dental Water Additive) is a good product to try. You simply add some of the product to your dog’s water dish. Then, it will clean their teeth when they take a drink. Most water additives have no flavor, so your pup won’t even notice they’re ingesting it.
Encourage the Use of Chew Toys
Chewing can be good for your dog’s dental health because chew toys can scrape plaque and tartar off your dog’s teeth as they chew. Some popular choices include textured toys like the iHeartDogs Mint Scented Brushing Dog Toy and durable flavored toys like the Benebone Wishbone. Even edible chews like bully sticks can have a similar effect, making them a perfect alternative for dogs who aren’t interested in chew toys but love treats.
Schedule Professional Cleanings
While routine dental cleaning at home is essential, consider scheduling a professional cleaning at the vet once in a while. A professional cleaning can be pricey, but it’s the best way to ensure your dog’s mouth is as healthy and pain-free as possible. If you’re unsure if your dog needs a professional cleaning, ask your vet.
What to do if Your Dog Hates Having Their Teeth Cleaned
It’s common for dogs to be stubborn about dental cleaning, especially if they’re not used to it. The best way to help dogs squirm less for teeth brushing is to ease them into it. Below are some ways to help get dogs used to teeth brushing.
- Start by touching their lips and rewarding them after. Dogs don’t have their mouths touched often outside of dental care, which is why many dogs dislike it.
- Next, try putting your finger inside the mouth and rewarding them.
- Use flavored toothpaste, especially if your dog is food-motivated.
- Try a finger brush instead of a traditional brush. They’re usually gentler and look less intimidating to dogs.
- Start with short, gentle toothbrushing sessions. Each time, you can gradually spend more time brushing their teeth.
- Stay calm while brushing. If your frustration shows, it may make your dog more nervous.
- Always reward your dog with a treat or toy after a toothbrushing session. That way, they can associate toothbrushing with something positive.
- Brush your dog’s teeth on a consistent schedule to help them get used to it.
If you’ve tried everything but your dog still resists having their teeth brushed, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet for advice. They may be able to provide personalized suggestions to make dental care easier for both you and your pup.
Since February is Pet Dental Care Month, it’s the perfect time to start a dental care routine for your dog if you haven’t already. Teeth brushing is just as important for dogs as it is for humans because without proper dental care, dogs could experience bad breath, pain in their mouths, and even organ damage. So, brush your dog’s teeth as much as you can and use other methods of dental cleaning, such as dental chews, when possible. And don’t forget to take your dog in for regular vet checkups so the vet can keep an eye on your dog’s dental health too.