The importance of regular teeth brushing for your puppy
Regular dental care for your new puppy is an important part of your dog’s development and health.
Many owners end up neglecting to brush their dogs teeth and complain that the “dog won’t let them”. This is usually due to the dog being conditioned to think that teeth cleaning is a negative experience. Forcing the brushing on a dog can result in these negative associations.
It’s important to introduce brushing as a positive experience from the start and continue the brushing at regular intervals. Regular teeth brushing and doing a general checkup of the mouth can prevent gum disease and help you spot other health problems before they become serious.
How to introduce teeth brushing to your new puppy
The key is to gradually introduce the teeth brushing routine in small steps over many days and weeks. Make each session short, and filled with lots of praise and affection. You want your dog to be conditioned to think that teeth brushing is a positive experience that results in lots of praise, affection, and even rewards.
Start by using your finger to feel around the mouth for a few minutes. Get the dog used to having your finger in and around their mouth. Offer some praise when your dog complies. Repeat this for a few days. Then rub some doggie toothpaste on your finger as you feel around the teeth. (never use human toothpaste) Be sure to praise your dog for allowing you to feel around in their mouth.
Once the dog is comfortable with this phase, you can introduce a toothbrush designed for dogs or a finger brush that can be slipped on the tip of your finger. Put a dab of toothpaste on and let the dog lick it off the brush for a few days.
Once your dog is comfortable with the brush, try brushing a few teeth gently on each side of the mouth, then praise your dog, provide some affection, and perhaps reward with a treat. Repeat this for a few days.
At this point, you should be able to gently pull back the gums and do a thorough brushing around all the teeth and especially the gums. Always praise your dog for staying calm and allowing you to brush the teeth.
You should be brushing your dog’s teeth after every meal or at least 3 times a week.
What are the benefits of regular teeth brushing?
1. You will be checking the mouth on a regular basis so you will be able to spot any changes in the gums, teeth, breath, and mouth area. You will be able to alert your vet at an early stage if anything unusual is found. Be on the lookout for loose teeth, cracked teeth, inflamed gums, tumors, and cysts. Alert your veterinarian if any of the above is found.
2. Regular brushing can prevent or slow the progress of periodontal disease, gingivitis, and tooth decay. Periodontal disease and gingivitis are infections of the gums which can spread germs into the bloodstream causing major health problems for your dog.
3. Regular brushing can reduce or prevent halitosis or bad doggie breath.
Other tips for preventing dental problems in puppies and dogs
Feeding dry foods only, or feeding dry foods after wet foods may help in preventing tartar build up.
Tarter mostly builds up on the outer surface of teeth so concentrate brushing there.
Chew toys and treats made for dental care can help reduce tartar buildup as well.
Avoid giving your pet human food, especially foods that contain a lot of salt or sugar which can not only damage teeth, but be toxic to your pet.
Full Dental Cleaning – Professional Cleaning
Even with regular brushing, your dog may still develop tartar below the gum line which causes inflamed gums, bad breath, gingivitis and periodontal disease. This will require a full dental cleaning by a specialist at your vet. Anesthesia is administered and ultrasonic tools are used to clean the teeth above and below the gum line Full anesthesia is used so a health check and blood work may be required beforehand to make sure there will be no problems. Most dogs need a complete teeth cleaning at least once in their lives between the ages of 5 and 8.
Please practice teeth cleaning frequently with your puppy. Also please encourage your dog to chew on dental sticks, nylabones, etc. This will keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy!