When was the last time you went a month without brushing your teeth? Okay, maybe a month is pushing it. How about a week or even a couple of days? The chances are that you brush your own teeth more than once or at least once every single day. With good reason.
So why wouldn’t do the same for your dog? If you have been wondering or asking yourself the question, “how often should I brush my dog’s teeth?” You have come to the right place. Let’s take a look at how often you should brush your dog’s teeth, why and some tips on how to do it.
How Often Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?
According to The American Veterinary Medical Association, you should aim to brush your dog’s teeth at least once every day. While that might sound like a bit of a fuss, the reasons for doing this are very much the same as the reasons why you are advised by your dentist to brush your own teeth at least once every day.
- Bad breath
- Gum disease
- Good hygiene
The association goes on to state that periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the most common type of clinical condition affecting man’s best friend. Not only does this disease cause bad breath in dogs but it also gives them oral pain, leads to certain behavioral changes (reduced appetite and lack of energy) and may even negatively affect other unrelated organs such as the liver, kidney, and heart.
The association further believes that by the time your dog is three years old, he or she may already have some form of dental disease. The adult teeth in your dog begin to erupt when your dog is around four months old. Unfortunately, the bacteria that lead to these gum diseases begin to grow on those teeth immediately.
If unchecked, this bacterial growth will develop into plaque, which in turn will eventually turn into tartar and as a result, periodontal disease which develops due to the bacteria that lives on tartar. That’s why it’s important to begin brushing your dog’s teeth early enough in their growth circle.
Why Should You Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?
Think of it this way: every time you brush your dog’s teeth, you give them a new lease on life.
The plaque that leads to the development of tartar, which in turn leads to gum disease forms in 24 hours. Within three to five days, your dog’s teeth will begin forming tartar on his or her teeth. By this time, simply brushing your dog’s teeth will not do the trick because regular brushing can’t remove the calcified tartar. This will mean that your dog is well on his/her way to painful teeth, bleeding gums, and even tooth loss.
If you feel as though daily brushing of your dog’s teeth is too much, the only leeway you have is to put it off and brush the canine’s canines at least once every two days. Any longer than that and you will be putting your dog’s health in harm’s way.
Here are other excellent reasons why you need to brush your dog’s teeth at least once a day:
- Without proper dental care, your dog could lose his/her teeth: Just as is the case with you, if your dog doesn’t get the right kind of dental care, he/she might end up losing some of their teeth. This can be a very painful process and may lead to severe behavioral changes and lack of appetite.
- Your pet could end up having retained baby teeth: These, in turn, could wreak havoc in the pet’s life. A fully grown dog has 42 teeth. However, before these teeth come in, all the baby teeth need to fall out. Sometimes, this might not happen, and it can lead to problems such as gum irritation or tartar buildup. When you regularly brush your dog’s teeth, you are in a better position to monitor whether or not all the baby teeth have fallen out.
- It could help prevent other health issues: As already mentioned, periodontal disease in your dog could lead to other issues related to the kidney, heart, and liver. All of which, apart from causing your dog great discomfort, will end up costing you a lot of money in vet fees.
Couple all this with the bad breath that comes with unbrushed teeth and you have many good reasons why you need to brush your dog’s teeth at least once every day.
Tips on How to Properly Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
The first thing you need to know about how to properly brush your dog’s teeth is that YOUR TOOTHBRUSH will not do! You need to use a specialized dog toothbrush that goes well with their teeth and gums. That being said, here are some tips on how to brush your dog’s teeth at home:
- Use a special pet toothpaste: There are a couple of good reasons why you should always use a special pet toothpaste and NEVER human toothpaste. For one thing, human tooth brushing products such as toothpaste, baking soda, and even salt tend to be harmful when swallowed by your dog (and he/she will swallow some of that stuff during the brushing).
Another reason is that these special pet toothpaste often comes in different flavors such as poultry and malt, which are familiar tastes that your dog won’t outrightly reject. Remember to always give your dog a tiny sample of the paste you intend to use to introduce him/her to the taste.
- Lift your dog’s lips during brushing: This is to expose the outer surfaces of the dog’s teeth and gum.
- Use gentle brushing motions: Just like you wouldn’t go rough on yourself for fear of injuring your gums, brush your dog’s teeth with a gentle motion.
- Reward your dog after each cleaning: This allows them to associate teeth cleaning with a treat. This way, they will be less resistant to the activity.
Remember to take your time to reach all the teeth, including the upper molars and canines. Additionally, schedule frequent vet visits to ensure that your dog’s dental and general health is in order.