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Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
May 15, 2024

Did you know that up to 90% of pups over the age of three have gum disease? Fido could also be suffering from a variety of other dental problems as well. These may include misalignments, abscesses, infections, and cracked or broken teeth. Dental treatment is a vital element of your pet’s general care regimen. Unfortunately, it is often neglected. Brushing your canine buddy’s teeth does not have to be difficult or time-consuming, and it is certainly not expensive, but, it can have a significant impact on Fido’s dental health. In this article, a local Bellevue, WA veterinarian shares some tips for brushing your pet’s teeth.

How Do I Know If Fido Has Dental Problems?

Fido may be pretty good at letting on if he needs a walk or is hoping you’ll share your sandwich with him, but he can’t tell you if his teeth hurt. You’ll need to keep a look out for warning signs.

Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Bad Breath: Man’s Best Friend is known for many excellent attributes, yet minty-fresh breath is rarely mentioned. However, your pet’s breath should not knock you out. Extremely poor breath may indicate a problem with your furry friend’s teeth, but can also be an indicator of other medical conditions. For more information, consult with your veterinarian.
  • Swelling: Swelling of the mouth, face, and head is especially alarming. This usually suggests an infection, which is exceedingly dangerous so near to the brain.
  • Reduced Interest in Play: Fido uses his mouth to play, so it is only to be expected that dental concerns would reduce his enthusiasm for his favorite hobbies. If your pooch suddenly loses interest in playing fetch or tug-of-war, he may have dental woes.
  • Different Eating Habits: Chewing on a throbbing tooth isn’t very enjoyable. You may notice that your pet takes longer than usual to finish their dinner. Fido may also spill food from the side of his mouth. Dogs with dental trouble may show a pronounced preference for softer food and treats. In severe cases, they may not consume anything at all. This, of course, can result in major health problems.
  • Grumpiness: Anyone who has ever had a toothache will attest that dental troubles do not improve one’s attitude. That is also true for pets! Your pet may appear unusually depressed. He may also withdraw and spend more time alone than with his humans.
  • Drooling: We all know that certain pups are naturally slobbery. If you own a Saint Bernard, you can generally anticipate Fido to be a little sloppy. If your canine pal isn’t regularly drooling but has suddenly started leaving puddles on the floor, he may have a dental problem. Ropy or bloody drool might also be a warning sign.
  • Bleeding Gums: Bleeding gums are frequently indicative of oral problems, such as gum disease. You may not see any blood on your canine pal’s gums, though depending on his fur color, you might notice stains around his mouth.  Look for crimson splotches on Fido’s toys, plates, and chews. 
  • Tartar Buildup: Is there brown or yellow muck on your pup’s teeth? If that’s the case, he could benefit from a thorough cleaning. This is also linked to gum disease.

Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

Brushing is as good for Fido as it is for humans. Brushing helps eliminate food particles and plaque, which can prevent tartar from forming. That is incredibly important! Tartar accumulation, like gum disease, goes hand in hand. As tartar accumulates, it begins to push beneath the gums. This eventually leads to the formation of small pockets that serve as breeding grounds for bacteria. The infection will eventually cause gum and bone loss.

This is more than simply aesthetics. Gum disease has been connected to several significant medical conditions, including heart disease. This is because the infection might spread from your pet’s mouth to his essential organs.

How Do I Get Fido Used To Having His Teeth Brushed?

As previously stated, it will be easier if you begin while little Fido is still young. The best solution is for your puppy to grow up believing that this is normal for dogs. You can still teach an adult to accept the toothbrush. It just might take longer.

First, gently touch your canine pal’s teeth and gums with your finger. Do this while you’re petting him so he associates it with receiving affection. Then, commend your furry friend and give him a delicious reward. Keep repeating this.

The next step is to incorporate some dog toothpaste. Put a little on your finger or toothbrush. Again, give snacks and praise.

Do this every day until your pooch is used to it. At this time, you can switch to Fido’s toothbrush.

What If My Dog Can’t Stand Having His Teeth Brushed?

Ultimately, this is something that cannot be forced. You don’t want to get bitten or make Fido afraid of being touched! Even the sweetest pup might become anxious about being handled. If your puppy isn’t having it, there are other things you can do to keep his teeth clean.

Options include:

  • Dental Rinses
  • Dental Flakes
  • Dental Chews

Dental-Formula Food and Treats

Here’s a tip: Try using dog toothpaste on a Nylabone. Then let your pet have at it!

Can I Use Toothpaste Designed for Humans on Fido?

That would be a definite no on this one. Many of our toothpastes contain ingredients that are unsafe for Fido, such as birch sugar (xylitol). Plus, your canine companion will most likely prefer having toothpaste designed specifically for him. Many doggie toothpastes come in flavors that Fido enjoys, such as chicken or beef. You’ll have a much simpler time if your cute pet enjoys his toothpaste!

Similarly, do not use a human toothbrush on Fido. They are not properly positioned for his mouth. Use a dog toothbrush instead. If you like, you can acquire thumb toothbrushes.

I’ve Adopted An Adult Dog. Is It Too Late To Start Brushing His Teeth?

From a bodily standpoint, it is never too late. However, this will become more difficult once your pet reaches adulthood. Training, of course, is essential here, but you don’t want to force the issue. If you’ve adopted an adult pup that isn’t having it, you could be better off using the other options we suggested above, such as dental flakes. Consult your Bellevue, WA veterinarian for specific guidance.

How Frequently Should I Clean Fido’s Teeth?

Ideally, Fido’s teeth should be brushed twice a day. However, even once each day or even every other day is acceptable. You don’t even need to clean your pet’s entire mouth at once. Just complete one quadrant and keep rotating. Your canine companion will still benefit. Once you and your canine buddy have this down, it should just take a minute or two.

How Many Dog Owners Brush Their Pets’ Teeth?

Certainly not as many as we would prefer. According to Ipsos, which conducted a poll on the matter, only approximately 8% of dog owners wash their pets’ teeth.

Fido fared better than Fluffy in this regard: only approximately 4% of cat owners brush their claws. (To be fair, cats aren’t always cooperative with this.)

Schedule an Appointment at Your Bellevue, WA Pet Hospital

Do you have any questions about your canine buddy’s health or care? Do you know or think that your canine pet has dental problems? Contact us, your local Bellevue, WA hospital, at any time!