This month is Pet Dental Health Month! Whether it is using dental chews, using water additives, brushing, or getting yearly professional cleanings, taking care of your dog’s teeth is a very important part of your dog’s health. I have seen firsthand what a lack of dental care early on in life can do and it’s not a pretty sight, not to mention extremely painful. That is why, upon meeting new puppy parents for the first time, I ALWAYS recommend that they get started on familiarizing their dog to getting his/her teeth brushed.
If you want to have a dog that is accepting of having his/her teeth brushed, it really is important to start as young as possible and as soon as possible. I’m not saying that you CAN’T do it at an older age, but you will definately make it MUCH EASIER on yourself and your dog if you start early. Follow these four easy steps to establish a quick and easy routine you and your dog will love!
First things first,Purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste designed SPECIFICALLY for dogs.
DO NOT USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE! Using the type of toothpaste that we use can be extremely harmful to your dog, as they cannot spit, and should never be used. There is a type of toothpaste formulated specifically to cater to a dog’s needs, can be found at most pet stores such as Petsmart or Petco, and comes in a variety of dog-friendly flavors such as poultry or malt. You can also ask your Veterinarian what he/she recommends based on the needs of your own dog.
Secondly,Let your dog get used to the taste and consistency of the toothpaste.
This is a pretty easy step, as most dogs LOVE the flavor. Offering some of the toothpaste ON the toothbrush a couple times a day for a couple days will help them get used to the feel of the brush on their tongue, and the sight of the brush means a tasty treat! Create a positive association with the brush and you and your dog will be on your way to healthy dental hygiene in no time!
Third,Gradually and gently start the act of brushing.
Let your dog get used to the feel of the brush against his/her gums and teeth. Don’t start brushing immediately, most dogs tend to get a little spooked at first so I recommend that you just touch the brush to their teeth and gums while speaking in a positive tone. Don’t be forceful or you’ll end up starting the entire process over. Once your dog seems to be comfortable, slowly incorporate the act of brushing.
I recommend that you start a routine with your dog. Let the process become something that you and your dog begin to look forward to! Whether it be once a week and incorporating dental chews, or once a day, remember that it is an important part of your dog’s health!
In honor of your dog’s health, start instituting a ritual this month that creates eagerness in your dog and excitement in you for the many years of licks and kisses to come!