We all know that oral health is an important facet of our overall health, but have you ever considered the benefits for your dog as well? Brushing your pup’s teeth can prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and even serious infection! However, familiarity with brushing human teeth does not automatically transfer to expertise in brushing canine teeth. With dogs, oral care is a learning curve for both puppy and person.
Studies have shown that regular tooth brushing can prevent periodontal disease, a serious oral condition that can lead to significant health concerns. One key study by the university of Pennsylvania indicates that plaque buildup is a major factor in the development of periodontal disease. According to this study, the highest risk category is small dogs. Their small teeth are most susceptible to plaque buildup
and the development of periodontal disease.
Signs of Tooth Trouble
Dogs are skilled at hiding their pain until it becomes unbearable. Pain while eating, particularly bad breath, or suddenly becoming head shy without other explanation are all signs of poor oral health. If your pup is in pain, visit the vet promptly to diagnose the problem and ensure there aren’t underlying
Successful Puppy Oral Health
- Daily brushing. Taking the time to brush your puppy’s teeth daily is an essential first line of defense against oral pain, plaque buildup, and ultimately periodontal disease.
- Get a canine toothbrush. The bristles are softer and angled differently than a human toothbrush. These differences allow the brush to reach their teeth more effectively.
- Choose a toothbrush according to your dog’s size – a puppy will need a different size than the same
dog as an adult. Even as adults, choose the brush by size to ensure it suits your dog’s mouth. For pups under 30 pounds, it may work well to use a finger brush.
- Always use canine toothpaste! Human toothpaste contains ingredients that may harm your pup’s digestive system, and you can choose from flavors that appeal to them such as poultry or beef.
Training Your Dog to Accept Toothbrushing
Set the Stage
- Start when your puppy is young to prevent poor health and create normalcy around toothbrushing.
- Create a calm environment and always back off if your dog appears agitated.
- Never stand over your dog or hold them down, simply kneel or sit by them.
Introduce the Toothpaste
- Put some toothpaste on your fingertip and allow your pup to taste it and get used to the texture and flavor.
- Repeat the tasting process over several days – if your dog begins to refuse your first option, you should likely try another flavor.
- Use this time to get your pup used to you touching their mouth and gums and teaching them to
open their mouth willingly.
Introduce the Toothbrush
- Show your puppy the brush, allowing them to mouth it and feel the bristles.
- Gently lift their upper lip, and angle the brush so it just reaches their gum line.
- If your pup appears stressed, take a break and try again later!
- Offer a small treat after each brushing session, regardless of how much they are allowed.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Continue the process of introducing each element and attempting to brush their teeth in a low-stress environment, followed each time by a small treat. Over time your pup will learn to trust you and the toothbrushing process, and even may anticipate it and the following treat! Use a gentle circular motion when brushing. Occasional light bleeding is not unusual or concerning. But just like with human teeth, significant and consistent bleeding is noteworthy. Speak to your vet if you observe any symptoms that seem problematic.
When brushing, focus on removing the plaque – especially on the outside of their back teeth. Work up to 2 minutes of brushing at least three times per week, but always stop if your dog resists or appears stressed. If you can’t reach the inside surfaces of the teeth, don’t worry about it too much – their tongue is coarse and will keep that area cleaner naturally.
Lifelong Oral Health For
Just 2 minutes daily can make all the difference for your dog’s oral health. Start introducing the process to your puppy immediately, and remember to have patience for each step. Don’t forget to schedule dental cleanings for your pup – while your regular brushing will help tremendously, professional cleanings are extremely important as well. Speak with your vet about how often is needed for your pup.
Our entire team at Sugar Sweet Georgia Puppies wants to see your pup live a long, healthy life. If you have any questions about finding a veterinarian, developing healthy habits for your dog, or finding a groomer in your area to care for your dog’s coat, we would be delighted to help!