How to Clean Your Dog's Teeth
Dental Health for Dogs
Keeping your dog's teeth healthy is an essential duty, along with clipping their nails, protecting them from bad plants, and playing games with them. Tartar buildup can lead to several health issues, even problems with the heart. Some pet owners choose to take their dog to a vet to have his/her teeth cleaned professionally. This usually costs at least $150 without pet insurance, which is why many people choose to brush their dog's teeth at home. It is ideal to start brushing them while they are puppies, so they can gradually get used to it. When you decide to start brushing, make sure you always use dog toothpaste, not human toothpaste. They cannot spit, and human toothpaste is not intended to be swallowed. If you use human toothpaste, this can cause an upset stomach and the contents of their lunch may end up on your floor.
Average Dog Dental Care Cost
Vet Cleaning with Anesthetic Workup
$250-350 a visit
Vet Cleaning without Anesthetic Workup
$100-250 a visit
Home Daily Cleaning
$30-60 a year
Home Weekly Cleaning
$15-30 a year
Tooth Extraction due to Bad Teeth Care
$600-1,000 a visit
Dog With Plaque on His Teeth
How Do You Brush a Dog's Teeth
- Ways to Prepare Your Dog: Before you begin brushing your dog's teeth, it is a good idea to get him used to you touching his lips. For a few weeks before you begin brushing his teeth, raise his lower and upper lips and massage the area for thirty seconds at a time. Watch his reactions. Once he seems relaxed while you are doing this, then he is ready to have his teeth brushed. Another good idea is to put a little toothpaste in his mouth to get him used to the flavor. If your dog is resistant to the flavor, but not the brushing, it's better to brush without anything than not brush at all.
- Getting Prepared: Before you bring your dog into have his teeth brushed, you want to set up the area and have everything within hand's reach. For instance, already put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, so the dog does not have to wait for you to do this. The idea is that you want to minimize the dog's discomfort and finish as quickly as possible. It is also important to make sure your dog is prepared. If he wants to play, he will not be very tolerant of getting his teeth brushed. You will want to make sure that he is relaxed and calm. This will eliminate the battles that could ensue if you choose a time when your dog is hyper and playful.
- Beginning Brushing Their Teeth: Once you are prepared, you will want to have your dog in a position where you can be face to face. This may mean you need to sit on the floor or place him in your lap. If possible, it is often a good idea to have a second person there to comfort him and talk to your dog to help him feel at ease, as well as to gently hold him still. The second person talking to your dog will help distract them, especially during times when you may need to add toothpaste.
- Brushing Their Teeth: It's ideal to use a toothbrush, but not all dogs will be willing to use one. In cases where your dog is resistant to a toothbrush you can use a wet washcloth or gauze on your finger. Another alternative to a brush is a rubber surface cap that goes on your finger, which acts like a toothbrush. You can find these at most pet stores. To begin brushing their teeth, lift up their upper lip and brush in a circular pattern making sure to get the gum line. Continue around the mouth doing top teeth first. Then begin doing bottom. The bottom will be trickier since your dog will most likely keep his teeth shut and the bottom teeth will be a little hidden. Really focus on the back teeth; this is where plaque gets built up the most and can do the most damage.
How Often to Clean a Dog's Teeth
There is a wide debate on how often you should clean your dog's teeth. You will hear some say every day; others will say once a week. I personally would aim for whenever you give your dog a bath. Usually I will clip my dog's nails, bathe, and all other grooming things in the same day. We also give him a lot of teeth-healthy toys like doggy designed rope, milk-bones; plus we always feed him dry dog food, which helps strengthen his teeth.
Then once a year, when you talk to your vet, ask him/her if he/she feels like the dog's teeth needs a professional cleaning. Some vets encourage you to have them cleaned professionally once a year regardless of teeth health. Others are less conservative and will truly assess your dog's teeth per visit. If you are brushing regularly, they may let you know they do not feel a vet dental visit is important. Either way, the vet should at least assess the dental health of your dog.
Side Effects for Dogs With Bad Teeth
Bad dental care causes problems for up to 80 percent of dog's over the age of three. Dental problems does not only affect the teeth, but also the liver, heart, intestinal tract, kidneys, and even joints! The reason for this is because the bacteria that is gathered in the mouth due to bad teeth, will eventually be swallowed, and begin to spread throughout the rest of the body. These bacteria can actually cause problems throughout your pet's body.
Signs Your Dog's Teeth May Need to be Seen by the Vet
- Dog's breath should never be offensive. Their breath may smell like the food they last ate, which is not the most favorable smell, but your dog's breath should never be intolerable.
- Gums should be pink and close to the teeth. If their gums are red, swollen, or receding from the gum-line, then you should have a vet look at your dog's teeth.
- When you brush his teeth, his gums should not bleed. Bleeding gums is a sign of gingivitis.
- Whining while chewing on toys is a big indicator something is wrong. You may find your puppy does this when their baby teeth are falling out, but they should not do that once all their adult teeth are in. You may also see a sudden resistance in chewing usually beloved chew toys.
Sometimes you can not get around to brushing your dog's teeth as often as you should; therefore, make sure you have a lot of hard toys they can chew on to help strengthen their teeth. Milk bones are great for cleaning their teeth in between, but do not solely rely on them, as plaque will still build up.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz