Dental Hygiene for Dogs – It Is More Important Than We Think

A good friend of ours recently dropped his mouth in utter shock and disbelief, and then proceeded to laugh a little at the apparent absurdity of what I had just told him.

I was explaining how I was getting my new puppy accustomed to a toothbrush. He simply could not believe that people would brush their dog’s teeth.

Well the sad truth is that most people don’t. And the unfortunate result is that dental disease is the most common health problem for dogs.

Many dog owners think that a DentaStik product or a Greenie treat is sufficient for canine oral health but they are not. They are mildly helpful but they don’t compare to what a toothbrush can do.

To have the most success you should introduce your dog to a toothbrush as a puppy. But it is certainly never too late to start, just more challenging.

I am one of those people who does not mind receiving doggie kisses but only if the dog’s breath does not smell like the local dump on a hot day.

When a dog has horrible breath, it is a sign of serious dental disease. Once a dog’s breath makes your stomach turn, it is no longer a mild problem. Serious health concerns have been associated with gum disease affecting the heart, lung and kidney function of dogs.

The problem is that dogs are unable to tell their owners that their mouth hurts or they are not feeling well. So prevention is the key. Plaque builds up on teeth in 24 hours so daily brushing is recommended. Yes, daily but I’ll admit that I don’t succeed at doing it that often.

Dental care is important for all breeds but it is most important for smaller breeds because they are more prone to gum disease. It is important to inspect your dog’s mouth weekly for red, swollen gums, bleeding gums and broken teeth. If any problems are found, a visit to your Veterinarian is needed.

Also watch for the signs of potential canine dental disease such as changes in a dog’s eating habits or chewing habits. Also, frequent pawing at the face or mouth. Compulsive nose licking is another red flag of a festering problem. If you see any of these signs, you need to examine your dog’s teeth.

If you have never brushed your dog’s teeth and you are prepared to start, then introduce him slowly to the process so that it is a pleasant experience for him. Make sure you only use dog toothpaste!

A good time to give oral care is when your dog is tired and relaxed. Start by having him smell the toothpaste and then put some on his gums. A meat-flavored toothpaste is preferred by most dogs. Eventually introduce the toothbrush to him but don’t try to brush all the teeth the very first time.

It only takes a minute or two. Give your dog lots of praise while you brush and then reward your dog with a Greenie treat afterwards.

Happy brushing!

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