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Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

May 15, 2024

gum disease affects up to 90% of dogs over the age of three. Fido may have other dental issues, too. Misalignments, abscesses, infections, and cracked or fractured teeth are all possible culprits. Dental care is an essential component of your pooch’s overall care plan. Unfortunately, it is frequently neglected. Brushing your furry pal’s teeth does not have to be difficult or time-consuming, and it is certainly not expensive. However, it can have a huge impact on Fido’s dental health. In this article, a Ashburn, VA veterinarian gives some advice on brushing your pet’s teeth.

How Can I Tell If Fido Has Dental Problems?

Fido may be able to tell you when he needs a walk or if he wants you to share your dinner with him, but he can’t notify you when his teeth hurt. You will need to keep an eye out for signs that something is amiss.

Here are some of the most common ones:

Bad Breath: Man’s Best Friend is known for many wonderful qualities, but minty-fresh breath is rarely discussed. However, your pooch’s breath should not make you pass out. Extremely bad breath may suggest a problem with your furry bff’s teeth, but it can also signify other health problems. For more information, speak with your veterinarian.

Swelling: Swelling of the mouth, face, and head is particularly concerning. This typically indicates an infection, which is extremely dangerous so close to the brain.

Reduced Interest in Play: Fido plays with his mouth, so it’s understandable that dental issues would dampen his enjoyment of his favorite activities, such as playing Tug O War or chasing Frisbees. If your dog suddenly loses interest in playing fetch or tug-of-war, he could have dental problems.

Different Eating Habits: Chewing on a throbbing tooth isn’t really enjoyable. You may notice your four-legged pal taking longer than usual to finish eating. Fido might also spill food from the side of his mouth. Dogs with oral problems may strongly prefer softer foods and treats. In the worst cases, they might not be able to eat anything at all. This, of course, can cause serious health concerns.

Grumpiness: Everyone who has ever experienced a toothache knows that dental problems do not help one’s mood. That applies to pets as well! Fido may seem especially melancholy. He may also withdraw, spending more time alone than with his humans.

Drooling: We’re all aware that certain puppies are inherently slobbery. If you own a Saint Bernard, you can expect Fido to be a little sloppy. If your dog isn’t normally drooling but has recently begun leaving puddles on the floor, he might be suffering from a dental problem condition. Ropy or bloody drool may also be a warning indication.

Bleeding Gums: Bleeding gums are a common sign of oral issues, such as gum disease. You might not notice any blood on your canine friend’s gums, but depending on his fur color, you may see stains around his lips.  Check for crimson splotches on Fido’s toys, plates, and chews.

Tartar Buildup: Is there brown or yellow muck on your puppy’s teeth? If this is the case, he may benefit from a complete cleaning. This is also associated with gum disease.

Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

Brushing is just as beneficial for dogs as it is for people. Brushing helps remove food particles and plaque, preventing tartar from forming. That is extremely crucial! Tartar buildup and gum disease go hand in hand. As tartar builds up, it begins to press beneath the gums. This eventually causes the creation of tiny pockets that act as breeding sites for bacteria. The infection will eventually lead to gum and bone loss.

This is more than just aesthetics. Gum disease has been linked to many serious medical disorders, including heart disease. This is dangerous because the infection could travel from your four-legged pal’s mouth to his vital organs.

How Can I Get Fido Accustomed to Having His Teeth Brushed?

As previously indicated, starting when your canine pal is still a puppy will be easier. The best option is to raise your puppy to believe that this is just a typical part of a dog’s normal day. You can still teach an adult to accept a toothbrush. It might just take longer.

First, carefully touch your canine pal’s teeth and gums with your fingertip. Do this while you’re petting him to help him associate it with something positive: receiving attention and snacks. Then, compliment your pooch and reward him with a tasty treat. Repeat until your furry bff is used to this. The next step is to add some dog toothpaste. Apply a little to your finger or toothbrush. Again, offer food and compliments.

Do this consistently until your dog gets acclimated to it. At this point, you can use Fido’s toothbrush.

What if My Dog Cannot Stand Having His Teeth Brushed?

Ultimately, this isn’t something to force. You do not want to be bitten or make Fido frightened of being touched! Even the kindest puppy may feel apprehensive while being handled. If your puppy isn’t into it, there are other ways to clean his teeth. Some of these options include dental rinses, dental flakes, dental chews, and dental-formula food and treats. You can even just put some dog toothpaste on a Nylabone for Fido. Ask your vet for more information.

Can I Use Toothpaste Made For Humans On Fido?

No. This can actually be dangerous. Many of the ingredients in toothpastes are toxic for dogs. Birch sugar, or xylitol, is one example. Plus, your furry friend will most likely choose toothpaste that is specifically created for him. Many doggie toothpastes come in flavors that Fido likes, such as chicken or beef. You’ll have a much easier time if your cute pet likes his toothpaste!

Similarly, avoid using a human toothbrush on Fido. They don’t fit his mouth. Use a dog toothbrush instead. You can get thumb toothbrushes if you’d like.

I’m The New Owner Of An Adult Dog. Is It Too Late To Start Brushing Fido’s Teeth?

From a physical standpoint, it is never too late. However, this will get more difficult as your pooch grows older. Training is, of course, necessary here, but you don’t want to press the issue. If you’ve adopted an older pup who’s not having it, you might be better off trying the other solutions mentioned above, such as dental flakes. For more detailed advice, consult your Ashburn, VA veterinarian.

How Often Should I Clean Fido’s Teeth?

Fido should have his teeth brushed at least twice a day. However, once a day, or even every other day, is plenty. You don’t have to scrub Fido’s entire mouth at once. Simply complete one quadrant at a time and keep rotating. This may be easier, as it will be pretty quick. Once you and your furry pal have this down, it should just take a minute or two.

How Many Dog Owners Brush Their Pet’s Teeth?

We don’t have an exact number, but it’s certainly not as many as we’d like. According to Ipsos, which conducted a poll on the subject, only about 8% of dog owners clean their pets’ teeth.

Fido did better than Fluffy in this aspect, as only about 4% of cat owners brush their claws. (To be fair, trying to brush a cat’s teeth can be, well, dangerous.)

Schedule an Appointment with Your Ashburn, VA Pet Hospital

Do you have any queries concerning your dog’s health or care? Do you know or suspect that your canine pal has dental issues? Please contact us, your Ashburn, VA hospital, at any time!