Dental Care for Dogs
Many people have pets as part of their family. The top two most popular pets are cats and dogs. Of those two types, dogs are the most likely to share food with their families. The typical American diet, however, can be just as detrimental to our canine companions as it is to us. Dogs have an oral ecosystem in their mouths just like humans do, with many kinds of bacteria attempting to get a foothold, and not all of them are good for your dog.
And just like with people, when food gets stuck between a dog’s teeth it becomes a banquet for any destructive bacteria in their mouth. As that bacteria grows and multiplies, it leads to bad breath and tooth decay. Many older dogs lose teeth, just like their human counterparts. Humans have the important routine of brushing their teeth twice a day, supplemented with flossing, but what about dogs? How do they brush their teeth?
A Little Help From Their Friends
Dogs of course can’t use a toothbrush by themselves. The responsibility of their dental care rests on the shoulders of their owners. On the website for the Veterinary Centers of America (VCA), it states that it’s ideal to brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a day, just like humans. Brushing three times a week is the minimum recommendation.
The challenge is getting a dog to allow you to brush their teeth — especially adult dogs unaccustomed to the task. Whether human or dog, the mouth is a sensitive, vulnerable area. Nevertheless, with a little practice, a lot of patience, and even more consistency, you can teach your dog to accept tooth brushing as part of their daily routine.
Naturally, the best time to get your dog comfortable with tooth brushing is when they are still a puppy. Choose a quiet time and place to begin. Hold them in your lap, facing away from you (or beside you for bigger dogs) so you can comfortably brush their teeth and gums. For the first few sessions, merely get them used to the sensation by lifting their upper lips and rubbing your finger along their teeth and gums in a back-and-forth motion. Make sure to do this at regular times so they can get used to it. And you know how your dentist at the Yuba City Dentistry Group wears gloves when examining your mouth? You can feel free to do the same with your dog’s teeth.
Once they’re comfortable with your fingers on their teeth and gums, let your puppy taste a bit of the doggie toothpaste you picked up at the pet store. Do not use human toothpaste, as the ingredients are not meant for dogs. When they’re used to the toothpaste, apply some to a cloth — or the dog toothbrush that you also got at the pet store — and brush the teeth and gums as gently and carefully as possible. Do everything you can to avoid poking or irritating the gums.
A New Trick for Older Dogs
The same sequence works for older dogs, but it will take more time and effort — as well as patience and persistence. Begin with a toothpaste flavor that your dog likes and let them lick it off your finger. Then, let your dog lick it off the toothbrush, so they get familiar with the tool. Finally, using short but regular sessions, begin brushing your dog’s teeth.
If your dog gets aggressive or overly resistant to the process, seek advice from your veterinarian on the best way to proceed. He might refer you to a veterinarian that specializes in pet oral care. The Veterinary Oral Health Council also has a list of doggie-safe dental products.
Your dog’s oral health is just as important to their well-being as your health is to you. We love our pets, and we want them to be happy and healthy. To take good care of them, we need to be healthy too, and the Yuba City Dentistry Group is here to help you do just that with dental care designed for humans.
NOTE: For the safety of our patients and adherence to health regulations, pets are not allowed to visit the Yuba City Dentistry Group office. Guide dogs and service animals assisting their owners are naturally allowed. We love pets, but for the sake of sanitation, health and safety, we must restrict pet contact at the office to photos and stories.