Ash Veterinary Clinic


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Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth Is Not As Hard As It May Seem!

Of course, February is not the only month you should be concerned about your pet’s oral care, but it is a time for us to bring attention to such an important part of your pet’s health. What would happen if you stopped brushing your own teeth altogether? Even if you only ate hard food, as most dogs do, there still would be problems such as bacteria and tartar which lead to halitosis (bad breath). Like humans, it is recommended to brush your dog’s teeth twice daily. Here at Ash Veterinary Clinic and Emergency Center, we understand that even brushing your dog’s teeth once a day is not feasible for most owners. We realize that brushing your dog’s teeth once a month is hard. If you are not brushing at least two to three times a week, then it really is not effective at all. We want to help you realize that brushing your dog’s teeth is easier than you think and there are other options for those than cannot brush or have pets that will not allow them to.
Just as in humans, brushing your dog’s teeth removes daily accumulation of bacteria which causes tartar and plaque. Even though dogs do not commonly get cavities, they do suffer from other periodontal diseases. If untreated, gum disease will lead to bad breath, pain, and tooth decay, cracking or loss. It can also lead to damage and infection of your dog’s organs, including the heart, kidneys and liver.
Step one in brushing your dog’s teeth is to pick an appropriate pet toothbrush. Save yourself time by not buying a human toothbrush, which is usually too hard for dogs. The ideal dog toothbrush will have a long handle, an angled head to better fit the mouth, and extra soft bristles. For dogs less than 30 pounds and puppies, a finger toothbrush that fits over the tip of your finger works well. We carry all of these products in our hospital.
Step two is to select an appropriate toothpaste. DO NOT ever use human toothpastes on your dog! The best pet toothpastes contain enzymes that help control bacteria and decrease tartar and come in yummy flavors like beef and chicken. Fluoride may be incorporated to help control bacteria and plaque as well. Place the toothpaste between the bristles instead of on top as this allows the paste to spend the most time next to the teeth and gums. You can also familiarize your pet with the toothbrush by allowing them to lick a small amount of toothpaste off of it or use the toothbrush with just water to get them used to it being in their mouth.
            Step three
is the hardest of all. It is time to get the brush with paste into your dog’s mouth to get all the teeth brushed. Most dogs accept brushing if they are approached in a gentle manner. If you can start when they are young it is quite easy, but even older pets will adapt to the process. Start slowly by using a damp washcloth or piece of gauze to wipe the teeth, front and back in the same manner you will eventually be using the toothbrush. Praise your dog during the process and offer teeth-healthy treats, such as CET dental chews which are available through your veterinarian, as a reward. Do this for two weeks, or until your dog is familiar with the approach and looks forward to the chew.
When brushing, most attention should be given to the outside of the upper teeth, especially the back molars. The toothbrush bristles should be placed at the gum line where the teeth and gums meet. The movement should be in an oval pattern. Be sure to gently place the bristle ends into the area around the base of the tooth as well as into the space between the teeth. Complete ten short back and forth motions, then move the brush to a new location. Cover three to four teeth at a time.
            In a perfect world, dog home dental care should include daily brushing using pet toothpaste and a proper toothbrush.  Here at Ash Veterinary Clinic and Emergency Center, we realize that you lead a busy life and sometimes your dog is not always cooperative. Since it is National Pet Dental Awareness Month, feel free to call us at 734-782-2827 to discuss what would be recommended for you to prevent your dog’s mouth from smelling like a sewer. Do not worry if your dog does not allow you to brush his teeth. There are other methods, like chews and rinses, which can help reduce tartar, too. Discuss with your veterinarian which chews they recommend because many of them are extremely high in calories and have to be given every day to be affective. Taking an active role in your dog’s dental care will help reduce dental disease and bad breath, which makes those slobbery kisses much easier to take and requires less dental procedures during the year!

[4:06:25 PM] Dianne Raftopoulos: