Call Us! Button

Request an Appointment Button

Online Booking Available
Online Store
Brushing Your Canine Buddy’s Teeth
May 15, 2024

Did you know that the majority of dogs over the age of three have gum disease? Fido may experience various other dental problems as well. Some of the issues that can arise with Man’s Best Friend are misalignments, abscesses, infections, and cracked or broken teeth. Proper dental care is crucial for maintaining your furry friend’s overall health and well-being. Discover some helpful tips on how to properly brush your pet’s teeth in this informative article by a Potomac, MD veterinarian.

Is Brushing A Dog’s Teeth Necessary? 

Brushing is as beneficial for Fido as it is for us. Regular brushing is essential for maintaining oral hygiene and preventing the buildup of plaque and tartar. It  can effectively remove food particles and plaque, ensuring a clean and healthy mouth. That’s very important! Just like in humans, tartar buildup is closely linked to gum disease in pets. As tartar accumulates, it begins to exert pressure beneath the gums. Over time, pockets form, providing a welcoming environment for bacteria. The infection can cause the gradual deterioration of gum tissue and bone structure.

This goes beyond mere aesthetics. There is a strong correlation between gum disease and serious medical conditions, including heart disease. That’s because the infection has the potential to spread from your pet’s mouth to their vital organs.

How Can I Make Fido More Comfortable With Having His Teeth Brushed?

It’s best if you begin training little Fido while he is still young, so he can grow up just considering this a normal part of being a dog. However, it is possible to train an adult pup to tolerate the toothbrush. It might require additional time.

Here are training steps:

Begin by softly massaging your pup’s teeth and gums using your finger. Do this while petting him,  so he associates it with something he likes: receiving affection. Praise your furry friend and offer him a delicious treat.

Next, add some doggy toothpaste. Apply a small amount on your finger or toothbrush. Once more, provide treats and praise.

Make sure to practice this daily until your pup becomes accustomed to it. Once he is accustomed to it,  you can proceed to using Fido’s toothbrush.

My Dog Won’t Let Me Brush His Teeth! Now What?

In the end, this is not something that can be coerced. It’s important to avoid getting bitten and also to just ensure that your furry friend feels comfortable with physical contact. Even the most well-behaved dog can become anxious about such matters. 

If your dog is resistant, there are alternative methods to maintain good oral hygiene for your furry friend. Consider applying doggy toothpaste onto a Nylabone, for instance. Ask your Potomac, MD vet for tips.

How Often Should I Brush Fido’s Teeth?

Ideally, we would recommend that Fido’s teeth be brushed twice a day for optimal dental hygiene. However, once a day is fine. You can choose to clean your pet’s mouth in smaller sections if you prefer. Simply complete one quadrant a day and continue rotating. Your furry friend will still reap the rewards! 

Once you and your pup have gotten used to this, it should only take a minute or two.

Do Most Dog Owners Brush Their Dogs’ Teeth?

Unfortunately, no. According to estimates from Ipsos, who conducted a poll on the topic, a mere eight percent of dog owners take the time to brush their pet’s teeth.

Fido is excelling compared to Fluffy here, as only a small fraction of cat owners take the time to brush their pet’s teeth. (To be fair, kitties tend to be quite uncooperative in this regard.)

Is It Safe To Use Human Toothpaste On Dogs?

Absolutely not! Our toothpastes are not suitable for Fido, as they contain ingredients like birch sugar (xylitol) that may not be safe for pets. In addition, your furry companion will likely greatly appreciate having a toothpaste specifically designed to meet his needs. There are a variety of doggy toothpastes available in flavors that pups tend to enjoy, such as chicken or beef. 

Likewise, avoid using a toothbrush meant for humans on your furry friend. The angling isn’t right for Fido’s mouth. 

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

Physically, it is never too late to start. However, once a pooch reaches adulthood, training may become tricky. It’s important not to push too hard. If you’ve adopted an adult dog who is resistant, you may find more success by trying alternative approaches like dental flakes. Consult your local Potomac, MD veterinarian for specific advice.

What Are The Signs Of Doggy Dental Issues?

It’s important to be vigilant for any signs that Fido may be experiencing dental discomfort, as he is unable to communicate this to you directly.

Here are a few major ones:

  • Drool: We understand that certain pooches are a bit slobbery. If you have a Saint Bernard, you can anticipate Fido to be a tad messy. On the other hand, if your furry friend typically doesn’t have a drooling problem, but has recently started leaving wet spots on the floor, it’s possible that there might be a dental problem at play. Ropy or bloody drool is also a red flag.
  • Gum Bleeding: It’s easy to overlook blood on your dog’s gums. Keep an eye out for any red stains on Fido’s toys, dishes, and chews. 
  • Tartar: Is there a buildup of brown or yellow gunk on your canine friend’s teeth? A thorough cleaning may be beneficial. 
  • Stinky Breath: Fido isn’t exactly known for minty doggy breath. However, your pet’s breath should not wilt houseplants, either. Severe halitosis may indicate dental issues in dogs. It can also be a sign of other medical conditions. 
  • Changes In Eating Habits: Dealing with a painful tooth can be quite unpleasant. Your canine pal might take more time to finish his meal compared to before. Fido might also dribble food from the corner of his mouth. Some dogs with dental issues may show a clear preference for softer food and treats. In more extreme situations, their appetite may be significantly reduced. This, of course, can lead to significant health problems.
  • Grouchiness: Having a toothache can really put a damper on your mood, as many people can relate to. Your furry friend may appear unusually glum. He might also choose to withdraw and spend time alone instead of socializing with his humans.
  • Swelling: While all of these should be taken seriously, swelling of the mouth, face, and head is especially worrisome. This usually suggests an infection, which can be very risky when it’s so near the brain.
  • Decreased Enthusiasm for Play: Fido’s enjoyment of his favorite activities can be seriously affected by dental issues. That’s not surprising, seeing as he uses his mouth to play. If your furry companion loses interest in playing with his favorite ball or plushie toy, it could be a sign of dental issues.

Our Advice on Brushing Your Canine Buddy’s Teeth in 2024

What are the different types of dog toothbrushes available, and how do you choose the right one for your dog’s size and breed?

Different types of dog toothbrushes include finger brushes, dual-ended brushes, and electric toothbrushes. Finger brushes are ideal for beginners and small dogs due to their ease of control. Dual-ended brushes have two sizes to accommodate both large and small breeds, making them versatile for households with multiple dogs. Electric toothbrushes can offer a thorough clean for any size dog but may require acclimation. Choose a toothbrush based on your dog’s size and comfort level, ensuring the bristles are soft to avoid damaging their gums. Consult your veterinarian for specific recommendations tailored to your dog’s breed and dental needs.

How does a dog’s diet affect their dental health, and are there specific foods that can help prevent dental issues?

A dog’s diet significantly impacts their dental health. Dry kibble can help reduce plaque buildup compared to wet food, as the chewing action helps clean teeth. Dental-specific diets and treats are formulated to promote oral health by reducing tartar and plaque. Foods and treats containing enzymes or specific textures can also help maintain clean teeth. Avoid sugary and high-carbohydrate foods, which contribute to dental decay. Regularly consult with a veterinarian to ensure the diet supports overall dental health and addresses any specific dietary needs for preventing dental issues.

Are there any breeds that are more prone to dental issues, and if so, why?

Yes, certain dog breeds are more prone to dental issues. Small breeds like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Toy Poodles often experience overcrowded teeth, which can lead to plaque and tartar buildup. Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, have misaligned teeth due to their short muzzles, increasing the risk of dental problems. Genetics also plays a role, as some breeds are predisposed to periodontal disease. Regular dental care, including brushing and veterinary check-ups, is crucial for these breeds to prevent serious dental issues and maintain overall health.

What are the potential complications of untreated dental issues in dogs, beyond gum disease and heart problems?

Untreated dental issues in dogs can lead to severe complications beyond gum disease and heart problems. These include tooth abscesses, which can cause significant pain and lead to facial swelling or even jaw fractures. Infections from dental disease can spread to other organs, resulting in kidney or liver problems. Chronic dental pain may cause a dog to avoid eating, leading to malnutrition and weight loss. Additionally, systemic infections can compromise the immune system, making dogs more susceptible to other diseases. Regular dental care is essential to prevent these serious health issues.

How do dental issues in puppies differ from those in adult or senior dogs?

Dental issues in puppies differ from those in adult or senior dogs primarily due to developmental stages and dental care needs. Puppies may experience teething discomfort and are prone to rapid plaque buildup as they explore their environment with their mouths. Adult dogs often face periodontal disease from untreated plaque and tartar, leading to gum recession and tooth loss. Senior dogs are more susceptible to dental diseases due to age-related factors like weakened immune systems and tooth wear. Early dental care, including regular brushing and veterinary exams, is crucial throughout all life stages to prevent oral health problems.

Schedule An Appointment At Our Potomac, MD Pet Hospital

Do you need any assistance regarding your dog’s health or care? Are you aware or have a feeling that your furry friend might be experiencing dental issues? Feel free to reach out to us, your nearby hospital in Potomac, MD at any time!