Taking care of your dog’s teeth is vital to their long term health and general wellbeing. Just like us, dogs can suffer from dental problems that can be extremely painful.
Brushing your dog’s teeth may seem like a serious chore, and it does take time and patience to get your pet accustomed to this peculiar practice. Nonetheless, it’s something that’s definitely worth taking the time to do, for your dog’s own good.
Untreated dental problems in dogs can lead to more serious problems, including heart, lung and kidney disease. This is why prevention is so very important.
It is, of course, easier to start cleaning your dog’s teeth when they are young. However, it is still possible to get your best friend into it at any age. So, how do you do it?
Begin by dipping a finger into something tasty, such as beef bouillon, and gently rub it along your dog’s teeth and gum. Pay special attention to the gum line, where the gum meets the teeth. This is where most of the bacteria and food build up and plaque forms.
Start at the front of the mouth, then move to the back upper and lower teeth and gum.
Build Up With Gauze
Do this every day, until your dog becomes more accustomed and happy to the touching. You may like to try different times of day, or at different parts of his daily routine, to try and gauge when he is most willing to allow you into his mouth.
Once he has become used to it, cover your finger with a little bit of gauze as you rub the teeth and gums in small circles (as you would your own teeth). This might freak him out a bit, but persist with the gauze until it is time to move up to a doggie toothbrush.
Time for Brushing
Hold the toothbrush’s bristles at a 45˚angle to the tooth’s surface, and rotate in an oval motion. Pay special attention to the gum line.
Once the brush has been accepted, it’s time to add the toothpaste. Always use a doggie toothpaste, never human toothpaste or baking soda. Both will upset your dog’s tummy (and no one wants that!).
To clean the inside surfaces of your dog’s teeth, there is a special method you need to adopt.
First, place your hand over his muzzle, from the top. Then, gently squeeze and push his lips on one side between the back teeth. This should help to keep his mouth open. Pull his head back, very gently, so his mouth opens. Brush his teeth on both sides.
What If He Resists?
Well, that’s more than likely. You could try gently wrapping him in a large towel or blanket with only his head sticking out. It’s very important to keep the sessions short, to always keep it gentle, and give him lots of praise and affection when he allows you to do your job.
How Can I Know if My Dog Has Dental Problems?
Classic warning signs of periodontal or gum disease include:
- Reluctance to eat
- Reluctance to play with chew toys
- Reluctance to drinking cold water
You should also regularly examine your dog’s teeth for signs of oral diseases. Keep an eye out for:
- Brownish coloured teeth
- Swollen, red or bleeding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loss of teeth, or loose teeth
- Pus between teeth and gums
- Broken teeth
- Any unusual growths in the mouth
If you see any of these signs or symptoms, it is important to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
Good luck with your tooth brushing duties!