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Should I Be Brushing My Dog's Teeth?

Heck Yes You Should!!

Why is it important to keep your dog’s teeth clean? 80% of dogs have dental disease by age 3. That’s a pretty staggering statistic. It’s actually the most common clinical disease seen in dogs.

Not only is it common, canine dental disease can turn into serious health problems later in life. Risks include bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and painful infections. Severe infection can spread, causing life-threatening conditions. Brushing your dog's teeth can go a long way in keeping your dog healthy. Listed below are steps to help tackle this task!

Step 1: Find the Right Time

Brush your dog's teeth when they are calm and relaxed. Working up to brushing daily is ideal and even three days a week can make a difference.

Step Two: Gather Your Tools

You'll want to use a toothbrush made for dogs. The bristles are softer and specially angled. Finger brushes can work well for dogs under 30 pounds. For larger dogs, longer handles can give you better reach. Be sure to use dog toothpaste, too. Never use human toothpaste; it contains ingredients that may hurt your dog's stomach or health.

Step Three:

Make sure you're in a spot where your dog is comfortable. Don't stand above your dog, hold them down, or take a threatening stance. Instead, try kneeling or sitting in front of or to the side

of them. Gauge your dog's anxiety level. If they seem upset, stop, and try again later. You may need to work on mastering each of the following steps over time.

Step Four: Get Their Gums Ready

Test your dog's willingness to have you touch their mouth by rubbing your finger along their upper gums and teeth. This will help them get used to the feel of something against their teeth. Use light pressure. You may need to get them comfortable with this over a few sessions before moving on.

Step Five: Test the Toothpaste. Put dog toothpaste on your fingertip. Let your dog lick the toothpaste from your fingertip so that they can get used to the texture and taste. If after a few days they refuse to lick more toothpaste after their initial taste, try a different flavor. Hopefully, you'll find one they see as a treat.

Step Six: Try the Toothbrush. When your pup is used to you opening and touching their mouth, start using the toothpaste and toothbrush together. Lift their upper lip. As you approach their teeth with the brush, angle the bristles so they reach the gum line. Placing them at a 45-degree angle against their teeth will help the bristles massage the gum line and clear away plaque.

Step Seven: Brush in small circles, getting top and bottom on each side. As you move the bristles along the gum line, some light bleeding may occur. Slight bleeding every so often is OK. But ongoing or heavy bleeding may mean you’re brushing too aggressively or it may be a sign of gum disease.

Step Eight: Focus on the Plaque. Brush a few teeth at a time, working up to more each day. Aim for two minutes total. If your dog resists at first, try starting on the outsides of the canine and back teeth, where plaque tends to collect. If you can get the insides, great. But if you can’t get to them as well, don’t stress too much. Their coarse tongue helps keep that area cleaner.

Step Nine: Be Reassuring. Keep the mood light while you're brushing your dog's teeth. Talk to them throughout your daily brushing. Remind them what a good pup they are by stroking their jowls or patting their head.

Step Ten: End on a Positive Note! When you're finished brushing your dog's teeth, reward them with their favorite treat or extra attention. Also remember that good dental care doesn't end with brushing. Certain chews and treats can also help you fight plaque buildup. And don't forget to schedule regular professional dental cleanings. Talk with your vet about how often is right for your dog.

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