Does My Dog Need Her Teeth Brushed Every Day?
Which Dog Breeds Need Their Teeth Brushed Every Day?
If your dog has a large mouth and his teeth are spaced far apart (like those of Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Pit Bulls, and other breeds with healthy and normal mouths), if he keeps his mouth closed except when panting, and if his teeth are “scissor” type and come together neatly in the front, you do not need to worry much about dental disease and can probably get by with giving your dog plenty of things to chew on.
What do I mean by "plenty"? Your dog has to chew enough. This should primarily be raw bones. To keep my dogs' teeth clean, I also allow them to chew on coconut husks, wood, rubber, and many other objects. (Do not feed your dog bones that have been sawed and cooked like steak bones, pork chop bones, or rib bones. They can cause blockages, and besides that, are not much good for cleaning the teeth.) The CET chews are helpful, as are plain rawhide strips, rope toys, and many of the other chewing toys sold by pet shops.
Chewing is good.
If your dog has a short upper or lower jaw and his teeth do not come together (like Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Boxers, and other brachycephalic breeds), he breathes through an open mouth, or he has normal jaws but they are tiny and the teeth are too close together (like the Maltese, Yorkie, Miniature Pinscher, and some other small breeds) daily brushing is vital to prevent tartar buildup, gingivitis, and the eventual development of periodontal disease.
Puppies Need Their Teeth Brushed Daily Too
But What About MY Puppy?
Some people argue "his teeth are going to fall out anyway". Do not think that way.
If you start out with a puppy and teach your little guy that daily brushing is normal it will not be a problem for you to complete this task each day. The biggest headache in my experience is when owners ignore the problem until the dog is several years old and early periodontal disease is diagnosed during a visit to the vet. The dog needs a professional cleaning to start but after that requires daily brushing. This proves difficult when the dog is not used to the owner sticking fingers or other foreign objects into the mouth.
Older dogs have a difficult time accepting this procedure. Yes, puppy teeth will fall out. No, it does not matter.
Start when your dog is still a puppy.
How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth
If you have never brushed your older dog's teeth before, take her in for an exam. Your dog's teeth cannot be cleaned at home. She might need a good scaling, ultrasonic scraping, and polishing. If there are already pockets of infection, your vet might recommend she be put on antibiotics and have her toys taken away until things clear up.
As soon as the teeth are clean, it is up to you to keep them that way. To brush your dog's teeth every day:
- If she is small, put her up on a table because dogs feel overwhelmed when you are leaning over them.
- The first day, just put your finger under the lips and give her a lot of praise. You can let her lick a little off of the tip of your finger just to get used to the taste. (I use this chicken flavored product for my small dog's teeth. Never use human toothpaste as there is no way for her to spit it up and it will upset her stomach.) Don’t stress her out. Let her smell her new toothbrush (I like the finger toothbrush because a lot of dogs seem a lot less threatened by a fingertip in the mouth) and then give her a treat, keeping it a positive experience. toothpaste
- The next day, put her up on the table again and let her smell the toothpaste and the finger brush, give her a small piece of cheese or other tasty treat, and touch her teeth a little more. Do not rush things, even if it seems to be going perfectly. It will take about a week if you go slowly, but at the end of that time your dog should allow you to give her teeth a proper cleaning.
Simple, isn't it? If your dog is adamant about not having her mouth messed with and you cannot handle her, find a behaviorist or trainer that is willing to work with her and teach you what needs to be done; your dog will eventually become amenable and accept your help. Don’t ignore the problem or she will pay for it and will eventually suffer due to your lack of effort.
Your friend deserves your time and effort!
How can I get the plaque off of my dogs teeth at home?
What Happens If I Do Not Have Time to Brush My Dog's Teeth?
Taking in and caring for your dog seems like a lot of work sometimes. You have to feed her, groom her, train her to behave and not to tear up your house, and provide her with plenty of exercise. On top of all of that, you are also expected to brush her teeth every day.
Why not just ignore this chore and enjoy the dog?
If you ignore this problem, there are consequences, and bad breath is only one of them. Your dog's gums will become inflamed, and pockets of pus will develop. She will have loose teeth, a sore mouth, and eventually will have a sore stomach and bowel problems from having to swallow all that pus. When she eats, the bacteria will be released into the bloodstream and it can get lodged on the lining of the heart (endocarditis) and can eventually lead to congestive heart failure. The bacteria are also filtered out by the kidneys and liver, so she might also have problems with those two vital organs.
Avoid those problems. Start brushing your dog's teeth every day.
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.