Protecting Your Pet’s Pearly Whites

Dog smiling

Did you know that dental disease is one of the most common diseases in pets? The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that dental disease affects 80% of dogs older than 3 years. Good dental hygiene at home is essential to caring for your furry friend. Here’s what you need to brighten that smile:

Begin with the necessities

  • Non-fluoride dog toothpaste. There are plenty of flavors available, such as poultry or seafood. Be sure never to use toothpaste with fluoride, as it is poisonous to dogs.
  • Pet toothbrush. A small, soft-bristled pet toothbrush or brush that slides over your fingertip
  • Pads or gauze. Pet dental pads are found at most pet stores or simply wrap a piece of gauze around your finger

Look for products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).

Easy does it

Now comes the hard part: brushing. Many dogs aren’t so keen on the idea, so have patience.

  • Rub your finger gently along your dog’s lips, upper gums and teeth for 30-60 seconds a day to get them used to the feeling.
  • After a few days, add some peanut butter into the mix. Put some on your finger and as your dog licks at it, carefully rub your finger against the sides of their teeth and gums. Lift their lips while doing so. Do this twice a day for 2-3 days.
  • It may take a few weeks for your pup to become comfortable with the action. Continue to practice moving your pet’s lips while they lick at the peanut butter so you can gradually access more teeth.

Once everyone is calm and ready, you can switch to the toothpaste.

Put your dental skills to work

  • Apply the toothpaste to your finger or a toothbrush and softly rub the teeth.
  • Brush along your pet’s gum line in a circular motion.
  • Work on one area at a time, then slowly increase the number of teeth you brush and reapply toothpaste as necessary.
  • If possible, open the jaw a bit wider to reach the back teeth and pay special attention to the outside of teeth, where periodontal disease is more common.
  • Reward your pup with a treat, play time or extra lovin,’ so he’ll associate brushing with a positive experience.
  • To reduce plaque and tarter buildup, repeat the process at least 2 minutes every day.

Watch the video for more guidance:

Take additional action

In addition to daily cleanings, there are some other essential steps you should take to protect your pet’s health.

  • Visit the vet for a dental exam – a thorough examination of the teeth and gums should occur at least once a year
  • Purchase chew toys that can help to strengthen your pet’s teeth – ask your vet to recommend some toxin-free toys
  • Consider nutritional supplements or formulated foods to further remove plaque and tarter – find out if there are any that your vet suggests

Making dental care part of your pup’s daily routine will keep them happy and healthy. Learn more about your pet’s oral hygiene.